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Crude Independence (2009)

7.1
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Crude Independence is a documentary film about the heartland in the process of transplanting itself, and the new heart is pumping oil. In 2006, the United States Geological Survey estimated... See full summary »

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Crude Independence is a documentary film about the heartland in the process of transplanting itself, and the new heart is pumping oil. In 2006, the United States Geological Survey estimated there to be more than 200 billion barrels of crude oil resting in a previously unreachable formation beneath western North Dakota. With the advent of new drilling technologies, oil companies from far and wide are descending on small rural towns across America with men and machinery in tow. Director Noah Hutton takes us to the town of Stanley (population 1300), sitting atop the largest oil discovery in the history of the North American continent, and captures the change wrought by the unprecedented boom. Through revealing interviews and breathtaking imagery of the northern plains, Crude Independence is a rumination on the future of small town America-a tale of change at the hands of the global energy market and America's unyielding thirst for oil. Written by Couple 3 Films

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6 February 2009 (USA)  »

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Not-so-Crude Documentary
27 March 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I had the pleasure of seeing this piece at the Oxford Film Festival, where it won best documentary in a very impressive field. Visually, the film is beautiful and striking; sun-soaked shots of wheat fields are often interrupted by fire-breathing steel behemoths, the instruments of the oil industry. Director Noah Hutton certainly has a talented eye. He also has an ability that is much less apparent but nonetheless essential to documentary film-making: he extracts the dramatic material he needs from all of his interviews. This involves making his subjects feel at ease, a process for which the affable Hutton (I shook his hand after the Q & A at the screening) seems to have been born. Moreover, he chooses a diverse cast of characters--such as an ebullient young gas station clerk, drunken roughneck black-gold miners, and some of the metamorphosed nouveau riche--in order to paint a comprehensive picture of a town affected, in its entirety, by our 21st century version of the gold rush: the oil boom. Even more impressive is that Hutton was by far the youngest entry in the festival. I hope and suspect that this movie will achieve distribution, and I expect that "Crude Independence" is the initiation of a successful film-making career for Hutton and company.


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