Total Denial: Doe vs. UNOCAL

Total Denial

Shot in Burma, Thailand, Europe, and the U.S. courts between 2000-2005, Total Denial documents the story of a historic lawsuit: Fifteen villagers from the jungles of Burma bringing suit in U.S. courts against a giant oil corporation for human-rights abuses committed in the mid-1990s by soldiers providing security for Unocal’s natural gas pipeline in southern Burma.

The plaintiffs achieved victory in Doe vs. UNOCAL after 10 years of fierce legal battles. John Doe IX, who had done back-breaking forced labor, said, “I don’t care about the money. Most of all I wanted the world to know what Unocal did. Now you know.”

Producer/director Milena Kaneva documented the abuses of villagers with help from Ka Hsaw Wa, a member of the Karen, an ethnic minority discriminated against by Burma’s military regime. Award-winning environmentalist and human rights activist Ka Hsaw Wa was also one of the leaders of the Burmese student democracy movement in 1988. In hiding in the jungle for more than seven years, he gathered the evidence of thousands of victims. At the federal court hearings, Kaneva’s camera was the only one allowed.

Total Denial is part of the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival 2007. Other films running at the festival include the Oscar-nominated My Country, My Country, and Black Gold, an exploration of the the global coffee trade from Ethiopian bean growers to multinational companies to U.S. coffee consumers.

HRW 2007 International Film Festival

February 15, 2007
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