Oil Spill: The Exxon Valdez Disater


March 2009

60 minutes, Documentary

Director: John Akomfrah

Producers: Lina Gopaul and David Lawson

Just after midnight on Good Friday, 1989, the giant super tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground on Bligh Reef in Alaska’s Prince William Sound to create one of the biggest man-made ecological disasters of the 20th century.

Eleven million gallons of crude oil gushed from the stricken tanker into the pristine waters of the Sound, killing whales, thousands of sea otters and millions of fish and birds. The spill had a catastrophic effect on local communities, wiping out their herring fishery and severely depleting the Alaskan salmon industry for years to come.

Shot in the austere and beautiful wilderness of Alaska, the film plots the trajectory of the disaster through candid interviews with members of the crew of the Exxon Valdez; local fishermen whose livelihoods were devastated as a result of the spill; Exxon operational executives who were on the scene at the time; members of the U.S. Coast Guard; prominent politicians; and members of the local community.

Film Festivals

  • International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam

Awards and Nominations

  • Grand Prize, Document Art International Festival of Documentary Films Romania 2009
  • Best Director, Document Art International Festival of Documentary Films Romania 2009