Distributor:  Bullfrog Films
Length:  97 minutes
Date:  2004
Genre:  Expository
Language:  English
Grade level: 10-12, College, Adult
Color/BW:  Color
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Blue Vinyl

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Filmmakers Judith Helfand and Daniel B. Gold use humor and chutzpah in their search for the environmental truth about vinyl.

Blue Vinyl

With humor, chutzpah and a piece of vinyl siding firmly in hand, Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Judith Helfand and co-director and award-winning cinematographer Daniel B. Gold set out in search of the truth about polyvinyl chloride (PVC), America's most popular plastic. From Long Island to Louisiana to Italy, they unearth the facts about PVC and its effects on human health and the environment.

Back at the starter ranch, Helfand coaxes her terribly patient parents into replacing their vinyl siding on the condition that she can find a healthy, affordable alternative (and it has to look good!).

A detective story, an eco-activism doc, and a rollicking comedy, BLUE VINYL puts a human face on the dangers posed by PVC at every stage of its life cycle, from factory to incinerator. Consumer consciousness and the 'precautionary principle' have never been this much fun.

'Funny and irreverent! One of Sundance's best documentaries.' Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

'Blue Vinyl is a kind of ecological detective story that provides humor along with information...[a] strongly recommended addition to school, college, and community library collections.' The Midwest Book Review

'That rare muckraking film with a sense of humor.' Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

'Directors Helfand and Daniel Gold brilliantly link unlikely stories and characters across continents, race, and class.' Caroline Libresco, Sundance Film Festival.

'Scary and hilarious!' Elvis Mitchell, The New York Times

'The Green Building Movement may have just acquired its first cult film.' Environmental Building News

'Blue Vinyl hits your psyche like a ten-ton brick. If you care at all about the future you'll see this film.' Theo Colborn, author, Our Stolen Future

'Blue Vinyl is highly recommended for upper level high school students, colleges and the general public. School media centers, college/university libraries and public libraries would benefit by having this video in their collections.' Ronald E. Saskowski, Educational Media Reviews Online

'The kind of movie you could name an ice cream after.' Ben Cohen, President, TrueMajority.org, Co-Founder of Ben and Jerry's

'Kudos to Helfand for her five-year struggle to get her parents -- and us -- to see the light.' Now Toronto

'This excellent documentary is well-filmed and edited. Helfand and Gold have used some very interesting techniques to capture the story...Sound is excellent and choice of music is eclectic. [Blue Vinyl] supports any number of inquiries into the role of science and industry in our global society.' Cliff Glaviano, Educational Media Reviews Online

'An amusing and irreverent but also resonant expose...Entertaining in its sardonic style...Blue Vinyl allows the industry its rather laughable say, but presents a scientifically persuasive case that PVC chemicals are now getting into the atmosphere, groundwater, and the food chain. Recommended.' Video Librarian

'Highly recommended' Library Journal

'Blue Vinyl...is alternately hilarious and disturbing...Helfand's style of filmmaking is similar to Michael Moore's, except that she is less confrontational. When interviewing corporate executives, she incorporates a subtle, naive approach to tease out self-incriminating statements...Incorporating animation into the film is not only creative but also educational...Although it is not your typical film used in anthropology classes, its emphasis on environmental issues and community activism are very important. Showing examples of corporate culture and raising the issue of corporate social responsibility (or the lack thereof) are also important points of discussion for the classroom. Considering the ever-increasing number of business majors in the university population, it would be a very important film for both undergraduate and graduate students.' Jeanne M. Fitzsimmons, School of American Research, for American Anthropologist

'Funny and unpretentious... It brings up honest questions, such as where this product came from, why we are using it, and if we don't want to use it, what alternatives are out there. Most people feel that on some level there is something wrong with vinyl siding, but not everyone knows why. This film exposes the fact that vinyl siding is, in every way, a hollow product.' Mark Bernard Steck, BUILDERnews


Emmy Awards nominee (Best Documentary, Best Research)
Excellence in Cinematography Award, Sundance Film Festival
Epic Award, The White House
Best Documentary, Bermuda Film Festival
Audience Award, Philadelphia Festival of World Cinema
Audience Award, Santa Cruz International Film Festival
Award of Excellence, Society for Visual Anthropology Film and Video Festival
Environmental Messenger of the Year, Environmental Grantmakers Association
'Nice Modernists' National Award, Dwell Magazine
Distinguished Documentary Achievement nominee, International Documentary Association
Best Environmental Preservation Feature, Artivist Film Festival
Audience Choice Award for Best Documentary, High Falls Films Festival (Rochester, NY)
South by Southwest Film Festival
Cleveland International Film Festival
Maryland Film Festival
Seattle Jewish


Main credits

Helfand, Judith (Director)
Helfand, Judith (Producer)
Gold, Daniel B (Director)
Gold, Daniel B (Producer)
Gold, Daniel B (Cinematographer)
Parker, Julia D (Producer)

Other credits

Directors, Judith Helfand, Daniel B. Gold; producers, Judith Helfand, Daniel B. Gold, Julia D. Parker; editor, Sari Gilman; director of photography, Daniel B. Gold; music composed by Marty Erlich ... [et al.].

Distributor credits

Daniel B. Gold, Judith Helfand and Julia D. Parker
Judith Helfand and Daniel B. Gold
Cinematography by Daniel B. Gold
Animation by Emily Hubley

Docuseek2 subjects

Citizenship, Social Movements and Activism
Toxic Chemicals
Sustainable Architecture

Distributor subjects

Air Pollution
American Studies
Climate Change/Global Warming
Green Building
Science, Technology, Society
Toxic Chemicals
Urban Studies


Judith Helfand, vinyl, PVC, Billy Baggett, Venice, Lake Charles, LA, Long Island, ecology, green building, architecture, pollution, industry, Dr. William Carroll, Vinyl Institute,"Blue Vinyl",Bullfrog Films

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