The Devil We Know
Impact | VIFF Impact
In 1938, Dupont Co. invented the chemical compound known as Teflon, and it soon coated pans in kitchens everywhere—so much so that at least one of the chemicals involved is found in the bloodstreams of 99.7% of Americans. This chemical compound, C8—which is also present in things like microwave popcorn bags and extreme-weather clothing—has long been suspected of causing everything from cancer to birth defects in the residents of Parkersburg, West Virginia, home to the Teflon plant and a large number of ill and/or deformed people. Stephanie Soechtig’s meticulously researched investigative documentary is squarely on the side of the residents, many profiled here, as they fight the corporate behemoth and seek restitution. Amongst other damning facts, the film shows that Dupont knew of the compound’s ill effects as early as 1982, but blithely ignored the evidence, and that it still produces the compound today, skirting regulatory rules by slightly altering C8’s chemical make-up. Angry but always intelligent and evidence-based, this is activist filmmaking of the highest calibre.
"This cogent, powerful indictment… [is] a riveting tale of long-term irresponsibility and injustice… Soechtig presents an unusually engrossing documentary for this type of subject, with human interest always in the forefront despite the complex timeline of events, issues and information presented. The director… presides over an expert assembly that’s sharp in every department."—Dennis Harvey, Variety