If you’re a PopTort fan, you know that there have been a few documentaries already out this year about the civil justice system, except that the business community, with all their money, can’t seem to make ones that anyone wants to watch. I dunno, maybe the problem is their basic theme: “please feel sorry for us, we can’t make as much money as we want at the expense of everyday people, wah wah wah”.
Last Monday night, an example of this phenomenon aired on the Reelz channel, a film called Injustice that received almost no news coverage except by piggy-backing off publicity for the critically-acclaimed film Hot Coffee, and even so, was covered mostly by a few legal blogs like Above the Law, which lambasted it saying, “I’m not sure if anyone was even able to watch it. And if they had been able to do so, I’m pretty sure they would have changed the channel pretty quickly….” (We were happy to see them pick up our “this isn’t a film, it’s an infomercial” theme! ) Even noted film and media scholar Patricia Aufderheide, professor of Film and Media Arts in the School of Communication at American University and director of the Center for Social Media, noticed, tweeting: Dueling documentaries ; looks like the big-biz folks aren't as good filmmakers....http://wapo.st/qwM4N7 @hotcoffeemovie
On the other side of that coin, once again tonight HBO airs another very powerful documentary film, called Mann v. Ford, by co-directors Maro Chermayeff and Micah Fink, which showcases how vitally important the civil justice system and plaintiff’s lawyers are to help communities seek justice when powerful corporations have harmed them. Here is what HBO says about it:
The Ramapough Mountain Indians have lived in the hills and forests of northern New Jersey, less than 40 miles from midtown Manhattan, for hundreds of years. In the 1960s, their neighbor in nearby Mahwah, the Ford Motor Company, bought their land and began dumping toxic waste in the woods and abandoned iron mines surrounding their homes. Ford has acknowledged the dumping.
In the 1980s, the Ramapough’s homeland was placed on the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of federally monitored Superfund sites – and supposedly cleaned up by Ford. However, thousands of tons of toxic waste were left behind. In 2006, the residents of Upper Ringwood, after suffering for years from a range of mysterious ailments, including deadly cancers, skin rashes and high rates of miscarriage, filed a mass action lawsuit seeking millions of dollars from Ford as compensation for their suffering. Ford denied all responsibility for the illnesses devastating the community and claimed its flawed cleanup had fully complied with all EPA rules.
MANN v. FORD tells the story of a small community’s epic battle against two American giants: the Ford Motor Company and the Environmental Protection Agency, which failed to ensure that Ford cleaned the land of deadly toxins and erroneously declared the community safe and clean of toxic waste. The documentary debuts MONDAY, JULY 18 (9:00-10:45 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO.
Impressive. We should point out the New Jersey newspaper, The Record (reporters Jan Barry, Thomas E. Franklin, Mary Jo Layton, Tim Nostrand, Alex Nussbaum,Tom Troncone, Debra Lynn Vial, Lindy Washburn, Barbara Williams) initially broke this story for the wider public in an award-winning series called Toxic Legacy. The paper's web site says,
A generation ago, the Ford Motor Company churned out six millions cars and trucks at a sprawling assembly plant in Mahwah. But that remarkable production came at a cost. Before the plant closed in 1980, it also generated an ocean of pollution that was dumped in the forests of North Jersey, contaminating a mountain community in Ringwood and threatening the region’s most important watershed.
In 2005, a team of reporters from The Record spent months conducting an investigation of the failed cleanups that had taken place up to that point, and documenting its impact on the people living amid the waste.
So again, the film debuts MONDAY, JULY 18 (9:00-10:45 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO.
Listen here to co-directors Maro Chermayeff and Micah Fink:
Here’s an update on the situation from the paper that broke the story:
And here’s the HBO trailer: