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SXSW Film Review: 'The Great Invisible'

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill has exacted a human toll

By Marjorie Baumgarten, 11:19AM, Tue. Mar. 11

When the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, filmmaker Margaret Brown sprang into action. The Alabama-born, Austin-based filmmaker must have instantly realized that this was her story to tell.


Having won a prestigious Peabody Award for her previous documentary, The Order of Myths, Brown was in a good position to quickly mobilize funds to start filming the explosion’s effect on the Alabama shores of her youth. Nearly three years later, The Great Invisible is the completed result of her work.

This film examines the human toll exacted by this calamity. The Great Invisible does not seek scientific explanations for what occurred or an excoriation of the oil industry. Instead, it looks at the fallout of the disaster on the people whose livelihoods are dependent on the Gulf – a large, disparate group that includes everyone from oil executives to oyster fishermen and cannery workers. One of the the recurrent figures throughout the film is a food-bank worker whose observations about the new normal are heartbreaking. Brown’s access to home videos taken on the rig prior to the explosion also lend a haunting sense of the lives lost in the offshore explosion. Ultimately, the documentary argues for a comprehensive national energy policy.

See our interview with the filmmaker here.


The Great Invisible


Documentary Competition, World Premiere
Wednesday, March 12, 11am, Paramount

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