On Thursday 30 November at 19:00, Esther & the Law will be screened at LAB111 in collaboration with Movies that Matter as part of the Rhizobia series. Afterwards, there will be a Q&A with director Tatiana Scheltema.
‘He was a peacemaker,’ Esther Kiobel says. She’s talking about her husband Barinem, one of the ‘Ogoni 9’. In the early 1990s, the Ogoni people in the Niger Delta revolted against Shell’s activities there. The oil extraction caused much pollution, while the population did not see a cent of the enormous revenues. In a trial flawed with irregularities, nine Ogoni leaders were sentenced to death. Esther is convinced Shell was involved in the executions. But can she prove that?
We go from Dallas (US), where Esther now lives, to Ogoniland where she is trying to mobilise witnesses for her court case against Shell. In the Dutch courtroom, Esther is flanked by a committed group of lawyers, led by Channa Samkalden. But they face the extremely difficult task of having to prove Shell bribed witnesses. The trial brings up a lot of old emotions. And between headstrong Esther and her lawyers, tensions sometimes flare up as well.
Rhizobia is a forward-thinking series in which we will explore various, prescient environmental issues and global perspectives on climate change through the spectre of film. The vast majority of environmental news stories are negative in nature, mostly given the conventional wisdom that increasing people’s concern or even fear of climate change are effective triggers for panic-stricken action. This series seeks to contest this notion by creating a space in which alarm overlaps with hope, knowledge and contemplative observation.
Rhizobia is a collaboration between LAB111, Stichting Art.1 and Gemeente Amsterdam Stadsdeel West.