Grants & Awards

The Great Invisible

– by Margaret Brown

    1. Nonfiction

    2. Date Awarded: Winter 2011

    3. Directors(s): Margaret Brown

    1. Producer(s): Jason Orans, Julie Goldman, Louis Black, Chris Mattsson and Margaret Brown EPs: Jeff Skoll, Diane Weyermann, John Battsek, Sally Jo Fifer

    2. Company Credit: Participant Media, Motto Pictures, Passion Pictures, Gigantic

    3. Location: USA

    1. Film Status: Completed

    2. URL: » The Great Invisible website

About the Film:

On April 20, 2010, communities throughout the Gulf Coast of the United States were devastated by the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon, a state-of-the-art, offshore oil-drilling rig operated by BP in the Gulf of Mexico. The blast killed 11 of the rig’s 126 crewmembers and injured many more, setting off a fireball that could be seen 35 miles away. After two days ablaze, the Deepwater Horizon sank, causing the largest offshore oil spill in American history. The spill flowed unabated for almost three months, dumping hundreds of millions of gallons of oil in the ocean, shutting down the local fishing industry, polluting the fragile ecosystem and raising serious questions about the safety of continued offshore drilling.

In The Great Invisible, Peabody Award-winning documentarian Margaret Brown travels to small towns and major cities in Alabama, Louisiana and Texas to explore the fallout of the disaster on the people of the region. Eyewitnesses reconstruct the spill and its aftermath in their own words, creating a vivid picture of the deadly accident and its consequences. Brown treats her subjects with respect and sensitivity as they provide first-hand accounts of the tragedy from the moment of the explosion to its still unfolding repercussions on the region and its residents.

Interweaving personal stories with insight from industry insiders and news footage of the disaster and its aftermath, Brown creates an intimate and emotional look at the many people still haunted by the Deepwater Horizon explosion long after the story has faded from the front page. The first comprehensive overview of the incident and its aftermath, The Great Invisible brings a new and unique perspective to the ongoing tension between the haves and the have-nots, exploring the crisis through the eyes of oil-industry executives, survivors, and local residents who are left to pick up the pieces while the world moves on.

About the Filmmakers:

Margaret Brown (Director/Producer) received the 2010 Peabody Award for her second documentary feature The Order of Myths, which also received the Truer Than Fiction Award at the 2009 Independent Spirit Awards and was nominated for Best Documentary. Brown received the Cinematic Vision Award at the 2008 Silverdocs Film Festival, the 2008 Grierson Youth Jury Award in England, and was nominated for four Cinema Eyes awards including Best Documentary and Best Director. Brown’s first feature was the acclaimed documentary Be There to Love Me: A Film about Townes Van Zandt, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and received worldwide theatrical distribution.

Jason Orans (Producer) was nominated for the 2009 Independent Spirit Producers Award and was nominated for a Spirit Award again in 2011. His most recent film Night Catches Us premiered in Sundance’s 2010 Dramatic Competition, was released in theaters in 2011 and was nominated for Gotham, Spirit and Image Awards. His 2009 theatrical releases were Dare and Ramin Bahrani’s Goodbye Solo, winner of the FIPRESCI International Critics Prize at Venice 2008, and a Gotham and Independent Spirit nominee. He is currently producing The Normals, a dark comedy starring Bryan Greenberg and Jess Weixler.

Julie Goldman (Producer) has produced a wide range of award winning documentaries that have been distributed around the world. She was nominated for the PGA Producer of the Year Award for Sergio, which was Emmy nominated and shortlisted for the 2010 Documentary Feature Academy Award. She was a consultant on the Academy Award winning The Cove. Goldman recently produced Sons of Perdition and is currently in production on a slate of films, including Hungry in America and Believe. Previous films include: Once in a Lifetime, Sketches of Frank Gehry, Cat Dancers, In the Shadow of the Moon and Buck, Sundance 2011 Documentary Audience Award Winner.

Festival & Award Highlights:

SXSW 2014 – World Premiere, Grand Jury Award for Documentary
Full Frame 2014 - Nicholas School Environmental Award
HotDocs 2014 - International Premiere