Vanishing Pearls
Slamdance Film Festival
Director: Nailah Jefferson

After the media represented the devastating BP oil spill to have been relatively cleaned up approximately five months from when it happened in 2010, director Nailah Jefferson continues the conversation where major media outlets left off regarding the event and its ramifications. This documentary zones in on the small bayou fishing town of Point à la Hache where catching clam was the chief industry, with protagonist Byron Encalade serving as the representative of bayou fishermen affected. Vanishing Pearls analyzes key points at which BP skirted resolution of the problem and reveals BP’s nefarious actions to cheat this small community—and others—out of their due reparations. A source of the fishermen’s strife is BP’s use of oil dispersants, which rendered the oil’s volume undetectable, safeguarding the corporation from penalties and, meanwhile, seeped into the reproductive ecology of clams and has sterilized them. The film includes a segmented interview with an overly clinical biologist hired by BP who, in a mere 10 days, misrepresented the amount of damage that the spill would have on the Gulf of Mexico in relation to the bayou fishermen’s livelihood. What’s more is the outright villainous Kenneth Feinberg of Feinberg Rozen, LLP, whom BP hired as the attorney to pay out claims to the fishermen. With 20 billion dollars dangling in front of the fishermen and their families, BP and Feinberg starved out these communities from receiving their claims by deferring the date at which they’d be paid and coaxing the victims to take $5,000 dollars per individual or $20,000 per business and rescind any further legal action toward BP. As Encalade fights for the communities and heritage he believes in, his family business falls to the wayside as the clams he once hunted become scarce. Though the documentary’s sheer amount of figures and graphs whir by, Vanishing Pearls thoroughly illuminates the egregious crimes that BP committed while purporting to help those struck by their negligence—it’s a tragically necessary film.


Date: 1.22, 5:00 PM Venue: Treasure Mountain Inn, Gallery