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Award-winning Documentary Oil and Water Airs on October 20 on KCTS 9

Two Seattle filmmakers spend eight years filming the true story of two boys confronting one of the world’s worst environmental disasters

Seattle – WEBWIRE
(Hugo Lucitante (left) and David Poritz (right) in Ecuador, photo courtesy of Stir It Up Productions)
(Hugo Lucitante (left) and David Poritz (right) in Ecuador, photo courtesy of Stir It Up Productions)

It sounds like a Hollywood script – two young boys from opposite ends of the world meet and discover they share a common foe, an oil industry that has devastated the Amazon basin and pushed a small tribe to the brink of extinction. One boy, from the Cofán tribe in Ecuador, is sent at the age of ten to learn Western culture and get an American education in hopes that he would return to lead his tribe. The other boy, from Massachusetts, learns about the rainforests in a 6th grade project and is inspired to take direct action about oil pollution. In the process, he works on a lawsuit against a major oil company and eventually launches the world’s first company to certify oil and gas operations for sustainable practices. These two boys, from totally different backgrounds, meet and their stories intersect, but it’s not fiction . . . it’s a true story.  

Hugo Lucitante and David Poritz were born on opposite ends of the oil pipeline. Oil & Water is the true story of how they confront one of the world’s worst toxic disasters. Hugo comes to America to get an education so he can fight for the survival of his tribe, while David goes to Ecuador to start the world’s first company to certify oil as “fair trade.” Their journeys lead them to explore what could be a more just future, not just for the Cofán, but for all people around the world born with oil beneath their feet.

Francine Strickwerda and Laurel Spellman Smith first began filming this story in Seattle in 2006, when they read a newspaper article about Hugo who was about to graduate from Bishop Blanchet High School. David Poritz had been spending his summers in Ecuador engaged in humanitarian work. He meets Hugo while hitchhiking in the Amazon. The two boys become friends as they struggle to deal with oil exploration.

“This is an epic David and Goliath story that we were lucky to find in our own backyard,“ said co-director Francine Strickwerda. ”Bringing this story to viewers in our home—the Northwest—is so important because we are all growing ever more concerned about how fossil fuels impact our environment. We live in such a beautiful part of the country and we want it protected. We see this in the controversies around coal trains and protests around the Shell Polar Pioneer. Energy production, and consumption, affects us all, from communities in the Amazon where our main character Hugo Lucitante was born, to the Northwest, where he grew up. We need to behave as if we’re all in this together – because we are" 

Oil and Water airs October 20 at 8:00 pm on KCTS 9. Watch the preview on Media who would like to view a press preview or arrange an interview with one of Oil and Water’s filmmakers may contact hcullen@kcts9.orgLearn more about Oil and Water.
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About Stir It Up It Up Productions
Stir It Up Productions LLC is a Seattle-based production company committed to making documentary films that are socially relevant, inspiring and entertaining.    

About KCTS 9
KCTS 9 brings quality public media programming to more than 2.2 million viewers each week in Western and Central Washington State, British Columbia and across Canada. To watch or learn more about any of our programs, visit .

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