Watch Bidder 70
- 1 hr 10 min
Bidder 70 is a powerful and thought-provoking documentary that tells the remarkable story of Tim DeChristopher's act of civil disobedience and the subsequent court case that followed. Filmmakers Beth and George Gage chronicle the events leading up to DeChristopher's decision to bid $1.8 million dollars he didn't have on parcels of land in Utah during a Bureau of Land Management oil and gas lease auction in December 2008. What started as a simple act of protest turned into a legal battle that threatened to derail DeChristopher's life. The film starts with DeChristopher's introduction to environmental activism and how he found himself at the auction. The setting is the height of the Bush administration's energy policy with the environmentalists protesting outside the auction. While he was a recent graduate of economics, the auction he learns is part of a plan by the administration to develop drilling and mining across the United States. That is why he decided to act in the auction by bidding for almost 14 oil and gas leases using a false name, number 70, due to what he says was impulse. While he knew he was in trouble for this illicit behavior, he did not realize the magnitude of what he had committed to. The documentary then follows DeChristopher through the legal process that followed his action. He was charged with two federal felonies, making a false statement to the government and violating a federal onshore oil and gas leasing act. The latter could earn him up to 10 years in prison. Media attention and public opinion were the center stage in this case. On one side, environmental activists and supporters saw him as a hero for courageous act, on the other hand, his detractors felt he was causing unnecessary disruption of the legal process and infringing on the rights of other bidders. However, DeChristopher's case was gaining more and more support from people who saw him as a hero who was acting in defense of the environment. The film also features interviews with some of DeChristopher's friends and colleagues, as well as notable figures in the environmental movement, including Robert Redford and Bill McKibben. As the case unfolds, it becomes clear that DeChristopher's actions were part of a larger movement to protect public lands from exploitation and preserve them for future generations. Despite overwhelming evidence against him, DeChristopher remained steadfast in his decision to make a stand. In one of the most poignant moments of the film, DeChristopher discusses his decision to take a plea deal, which he did to avoid a possible long prison sentence. In his own words, he acknowledges the difficulties he faced emotionally and mentally, while remaining convicted in the stand he took. The documentary ends with the aftermath of the legal trial, in which DeChristopher was found guilty on two federal charges and sentenced to 21 months in prison, and now on the other side of the cell, reflecting on the acts and its aftermath. Bidder 70 is an inspiring and engaging documentary that asks important questions about the role of civil disobedience in a society that is facing unprecedented environmental challenges. It is a poignant reminder of the power of individuals to create change, and a powerful call to action for those who care about the future of our planet. Bidder 70 is for anyone interested in environmentalism, political action, and socio-legal activism. Interestingly, activists in the film use social media to mobilize and build momentum, before opportunities like this, that can influence real-world policy.