Black Gold

 

Title Black Gold
Director(s) Marc & Nick Francis
Date released (year) 2006
Production company Speak-It   Films and Fulcrum Productions.
Length 78 minutes
Location Ethiopia
Keywords/tags Food, trade, neoliberalism, poverty
Link to film  

Synopsis From Tesfaye, B. &   Potter, J. (2011) Black gold: wake up and smell the coffee. followthethings.com   (www.followthethings.com/blackgold.shtml last accessed 6/4/13):

‘As westerners revel in   designer lattes and cappuccinos, impoverished Ethiopian coffee growers suffer   the bitter taste of injustice. In this eye-opening expose of the   multi-billion dollar industry, Black Gold traces one man’s fight for a fair   price (Source: Anon nda link).

The film follows Tadesse   Meskela, an Ethiopian man on a mission to save his 74,000 struggling coffee   farmers from bankruptcy. As his farmers strive to harvest some of the highest   quality coffee beans on the international market, Tadesse travels the world   in an attempt to find buyers willing to pay a fair price. Against the   backdrop of Tadesse’s journey to London and Seattle, the enormous power of   the multinational players that dominate the world’s coffee trade becomes   apparent. New York commodity traders, the international coffee exchanges, and   the double dealings of trade ministers at the World Trade Organisation reveal   the many challenges Tadesse faces in his quest for a long term solution for   his farmers (Source: Anon 2010).

Scenes in the film switch   between the disadvantaged coffee farming communities to the daily lives of   those at the luxury to consume it, which often exemplifies the absurdity   found in those gushing about the great wealth of a market built off the backs   of farmers who continue to live in poverty (Source: Reed 2008).

The spokesman, Tadesse   Meskela, who is the subject of Black Gold, together with the film’s English   makers, brothers Nick and Marc Francis, are a serious irritant to some of the   world’s coffee giants – in particular Seattle-based Starbucks, whose annual   turnover of $7.8bn (£4bn) is not much lower than Ethiopia’s entire gross   domestic product… ‘Our people are barefoot, have no school, no clean water or   health centre. They are living hand to mouth. We need $4 a pound minimum,   that’s only fair…Starbucks may help bring clear water for one community but   this does not solve the problem. In 2005, Starbucks’ aid to the third world   was $1.5m. We don’t want this kind of support, we just want a better price.   They make huge profits; giving us just one payment of money does not help,’   said Mr. Meskela (Source: Seager 2007 link).

By way of the farmers in the   cooperative and Tadesse’s efforts on their behalf, the film exposes the web   of trade regulations that keep farmers in developing countries poor, even   while transnational corporations in the global north prosper. Women   painstakingly sort millions of beans; and viewers observe the hunger and   substandard housing that accompany poverty. Juxtaposed with these images are   the cosmopolitan cafés of Europe and America, the comfort of conspicuous   consumption, the places of commerce where deprivation in one part of the   globe is turned into the wealth of another (Source: Fellner 2008 link).’

Source: http://www.followthethings.com/blackgold.shtml

Reviews/discussion From Tesfaye, B. &   Potter, J. (2011) Black gold: wake up and smell the coffee. followthethings.com   (www.followthethings.com/blackgold.shtml last accessed 6/4/13):

‘When Marc and Nick Francis   were making Black Gold, they never expected the story – about the plight of   African coffee farmers paid a fraction of the amount a latte or cappuccino   costs – to attract the very multinationals the film criticises. ‘They want to   hear what the audience thinks,’ Nick Francis says. ‘We had this screening in   Seattle, and the head of corporate responsibility of Starbucks came to the   screening and participated in a panel and answered questions from the   audience. That’s what you call the power of film – how a film could draw in   people.’ … The film has prompted rounds of crisis management sessions at   coffee-shop chains such as Starbucks, which issued a statement calling the   film inaccurate and incomplete. Since the film’s release, the chain has also   actively promoted a new range of ‘Fair Trade’ coffee in its outlets around   the world, including those in Hong Kong. The filmmakers are surprised by the   chain’s response to their film. ‘It’s not a film about Starbucks, it’s a film   about coffee farmers struggling to survive in the coffee industry, and their   story is set against the backdrop of the coffee-consuming world of the west,   of which Starbucks is a part,’ Marc Francis says. ‘We didn’t tell it so much   about them but they’ve taken it very personally. Also, we did spend six   months trying to interview not just Starbucks but other big multinational   coffee companies to bring their side of the stories to the film. But they’ve   given us no response. Now that the film is out there and is beginning to pick   up public momentum, the companies are responding more and more to the film –   or trying to show [through] public relations where they position themselves’   (Source: Tsui 2007a).

’Black Gold’ portrays the   coffee industry as a whole, rather than Starbucks specifically. From our   point of view, this film is inaccurate and incomplete, as it does not explain   how Starbucks purchases coffee, nor does it provide any reference to   potential solutions to the world coffee crisis… Starbucks takes an integrated   approach to coffee purchasing. Our goal is to pay premium prices that provide   the coffee farmer with a profit. In our financial year 2006, we paid an   average price of $1.42 per pound for our coffee, 40% above the commodity   price and comparable with the guaranteed Fairtrade price of $1.26. Our   approach… [has] been recognised for…leadership within the industry (Source:   Starbucks 2007).

We are surprised that   Starbucks have gone out to discredit the film again. This is not a film   specifically about Starbucks, it’s a film about the winners and losers in the   global coffee industry and it shows the daily reality for millions of coffee   farmers. We spent six months during the production trying to persuade   Starbucks to participate in the film to give them the opportunity to explain   how they buy their coffee and how they work in Ethiopia, but they declined   our invitation. In a subsequent meeting with five senior Starbucks executives   at their Seattle headquarters, we asked them to tell us the exact price they   pay farmers for a pound of coffee – but they refused to disclose this   (Source: Francis & Francis 2007 link).

During the film’s most   painful sequence, his [Tadesse’s] efforts and Ethiopia’s persistent, crushing   famine are juxtaposed with the vapidly cheerful corp-speak of two Starbucks   baristas (Source: Hornaday 2006).

Yes, the baristas are   excessively perky as they purvey coffee and the Starbucks experience; yet   they are also model employees, supportive of each other, efficient, and proud   of their company. At the time of the filming, the young women were   entertaining a tour from the Specialty Coffee Association, to which the   filmmakers had attached themselves to avoid asking Starbucks or its employees   for permission to film. How could these young women know that they would be   featured as unwitting symbols of the harm that transnational coffee giants   inflict on poor Ethiopian farmers? (Source: Fellner 2008 link).

The Francis brothers are   good on showing the situation’s local effects – famine, ill-equipped schools   – but less so at analyzing the international economic context: the film is   frighteningly free of expert voices. More dynamism and knowledge in the   telling and fewer cheap shots at young Starbucks workers in Seattle wouldn’t   have gone amiss (Source: Calhoun 2007, np).

The baristas and shopkeepers   that the film ridicules through artful editing are the very people who are   the farmers’ best hope for teaching the public about the true value of these   coffees (Source: Marshall 2006 link).

While it may prompt some to   think again next time they’re in Starbucks, this astute insight into the   coffee business is better at lauding the good guys than taking the   multinationals to task for the iniquities of the global economy (Source:   Parkinson 2006 link).

Although some scenes   register with strong impact, there also seems to be a lot of padding, and the   overall narrative is ultimately too diffused and unfocused for the film to   have the sociological impact it so obviously desires (Source: Scheck 2006).

Compared to a documentary   like Darwin’s Nightmare, which found disturbing visual analogues for the   moral rot of global trade, Black Gold makes most of its points in words, not   pictures. (Source: Murray 2006 link)

The movie’s approach reminds   me that of the paternalistic and Western-centred [sic] 1970s-style theories   according to which only colonialism and international market (i.e. ‘us’ the   Western world) are to blame, and no others’ power and responsibilities are   recognised. Likewise, there is no mention in the movie of the roles that the   Ethiopian State could play in economic development and, for instance,   education (Source: Chiari 2007 link).

[I] found it confusing to   people outside the coffee field, partial, and intellectually not particularly   honest…In my opinion, the film completely overlooks factors such as   historical events (the Mengistu dictatorship which ruined plantations and the   coffee free flow), inept procedures such as the bureaucracy surrounding the   auctions system which hardly allows enough time for buyers to evaluate the   lots), and also the ever present corruption, probably less in Ethiopia than   in other parts of Africa, but then why generalize in the end with statements   about Africa’s share of world trade? (Source: cofyknsult 2006 link).’

Further Reading

Anon (nda) The DVD.   blackgoldmovie.com (www.blackgoldmovie.com/dvd.php   last accessed 7 March 2011)

Anon (ndb) Black Gold: wake   up and smell the coffee. maketradefair.com (www.maketradefair.com/en/index.php?file=blackgoldmovie_main.html&cat=5&subcat=1&select=1   last accessed j March 2011)

Anon (ndc) Black Gold:   sowing the seeds for change. maketradefair.com (www.maketradefair.com/en/index.php?file=blackgoldmovie_main.html&cat=5&subcat=1&select=1   last accessed 7 March 2011)

Anon (2007) Ethiopia: smell   the exploitation. Africa News 25 December

Anon (2008a) Trademarking:   grown in Ethiopia. Marketing Week April 24, p.16

Anon (2008b) Ethiopia: Black   Gold premiere.   Africa News 24 March

Anon (2010) Mayor will take   to stage at screening to receive town’s award. Todmorden News (UK) 4   March

Calhoun, D. (2007) Black   Gold: movie review. Time Out New York 6 June (www.timeout.com/film/newyork/reviews/83812/Black_Gold.html   last accessed 7 March 2011)

Chiari, G.P. (2007) Black   Gold forums: about the movie’s paternalistic approach. blackgoldmovie.com   8 December (http://blackgoldmovie.com/forum/index.php?action=vthread&forum=1&topic=279   last accessed 7 March 2011)

cofyknsult (2006) Black Gold   forums: the film completely overlooks key factors. blackgoldmovie.com   24 October (http://blackgoldmovie.com/forum/index.php?action=vthread&forum=1&topic=65   last accessed 7 March 2011)

Cycon, D. (2007) Javatrekker:   dispatches from the world of fair trade coffee. White River   Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing

Doane, M. (2010)   Relationship coffees. Structure and agency in the fair trade system. in Lyon,   S. and Moberg, M. (eds) Fair trade and social justice: global ethnographies. New   York: New York University Press

Fellner, K. (2008) Starbucks   vs Ethiopia.   Foreign Policy in Focus 15 September (www.fpif.org/articles/starbucks_v_ethiopia   last accessed 7 March 2011)

Francis, M. & Francis,   N. (nda) Black Gold: filmmaker Q&A. PBS Independent Lens (www.pbs.org/independentlens/blackgold/qa.html   last accessed 7 March 2011)

Francis, M. & Francis,   N. (ndb) Directors’ statement. blackgoldmovie.com (www.blackgoldmovie.com/directors.php   last accessed 7 March 2011)

Francis, M. & Francis,   N. (2006) Black Gold – Fair Trade, Sundance, and Starbucks’ ‘Charm Offensive’   in Park City.   Huffington Post 2 February (www.huffingtonpost.com/marc-and-nick-francis/black-gold-fair-trade-sun_b_15036.html   last accessed 7 March 2011)

Francis, M. & Francis,   N. (2007) Starbucks issue press statement about Black Gold: filmmakers   respond. blackgoldmovie.com   16 January (www.blackgoldmovie.com/blog.php/?p=43   last accessed 7 March 2011)

Hornaday, A. (2006) A spike   in supply chain muckraking: films explore economy’s social costs. Washington   Post 10 December

Marshall (2006) Black Gold   forums: guilt & ridicule. blackgoldmovie.com 25 November (http://blackgoldmovie.com/forum/index.php?action=vthread&forum=1&topic=85   last accessed 7 March 2011)

Murray, N. (2006) Review of   Black Gold. The   Onion A.V. Club 5 October (www.avclub.com/articles/black-gold,3766/   last accessed 7 March 2011)

Parkinson, D. (2007) Review   of Black Gold. Empire (www.empireonline.com/reviews/ReviewComplete.asp?FID=135039   last accessed 7 March 2011)

Reed, N. (2008) Wal-mart   executives discuss future of ‘Black Gold’ at U. Arkansas. University Wire   (USA) 7 April

Scheck, F. (2006) Review of   Black Gold. Hollywood   Reporter 11 October

Seager, A (2007) Starbucks   stirred by fair trade film. The Guardian (UK) 29 January (www.guardian.co.uk/business/2007/jan/29/development.filmnews   last accessed 7 March 2011)

Starbucks (2007) Starbucks   statement on Black Gold film. Business and Human Rights Resource Centre [download]

Tsui, C. (2007a) Film raises   hackles in the coffee shops of power. South China Morning Post 3 April, p.4

Tsui, C. (2007b) Using the   plot.   South China Morning Post 26 March, p.5

Source: From Tesfaye, B.   & Potter, J. (2011) Black gold: wake up and smell the coffee. followthethings.com   (www.followthethings.com/blackgold.shtml last accessed 6/4/13)

Links to other resources Oromia Coffee Union: Farmers cooperative union website (www.oromiacoffeeunion.org/ under   construction 12 March 2011)

New Internationalist shop: Oromia Coffee Union products (www.newint.com.au/mobile/shop/oromia-coffee-union-p68.htm   last accessed 12 March 2011)

‘Black Gold’   pages on Oxfam’s ‘Make trade fair’ campaign website (www.maketradefair.com/en/index.php?file=blackgoldmovie_main.html&cat=5&subcat=1&select=1   last accessed 12 March 2011)

‘Black Gold’   Movie website (www.blackgoldmovie.com/ last   accessed 12 March 2011)

‘Black Gold’   YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/blackgoldmoviedotcom   last accessed 12 March 2011)

‘Black Gold’   pages on US PBS TV ‘Independent lens’ series website (www.pbs.org/independentlens/blackgold/index.html   last accessed 12 March 2011)

Starbucks’   ‘Corporate social responsibility’ webpage (http://gr.starbucks.com/en-US/_Social+Responsibility/   last accessed 12 March 2011)

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Hidden Flow: The rising tide of European e-waste in West Africa

Title Hidden Flow: The rising tide of European e-waste in West Africa
Director(s)  
Date released (year) 2008
Production company Danwatch
Length 5.11mins
Location West Africa
Keywords/tags Toxic waste
Link to film http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBC-dWgElbI
Synopsis This investigative film produced by CI’s corporate watchdog partner   DanWatch reveals how a staggering 500,000 used PCs arrive in Lagos every   month – 75% of which go straight to landfill. This is just the tip of the 6.6   million tons of European e-waste dumped on the developing world every year,   despite international bans.
Reviews/discussion Greenpeace’s   supporting discussion:

How does it get to   Ghana?

Containers filled with old and often broken   computers, monitors and TVs – from brands including Philips, Canon, Dell,   Microsoft, Nokia, Siemens and Sony – arrive in Ghana from Germany, Korea,   Switzerland and the Netherlands under the false label of “second-hand   goods”. Exporting e-waste from Europe is illegal but exporting old   electronics for ‘reuse’ allows unscrupulous traders to profit from dumping   old electronics in Ghana. The majority of the containers’ contents end up in   Ghana’s scrap yards to be crushed and burned by unprotected workers. Some traders report that   to get a shipping container with a few working computers they must accept   broken junk like old screens in the same container from exporters in   developed countries.

What’s the   solution?

While working computers and mobile phones   can have a new lease of life in some African countries, they create pollution   when thrown away due to the high levels of toxic chemicals they contain. This   is why we are pressuring the biggest electronic companies to   phase out toxic chemicals and introduce global recycling schemes. Both of   these steps are vital to tackle the growing tide of toxic e-waste.

Some companies are making progress towards   taking responsibility for the entire lifecycle of their products. However, Philips and Sharp stand out for refusing to accept that they are   responsible for recycling their old products. The stance of these powerful   multinationals is ensuring there will always be a digital divide that they   prefer remains hidden, a dangerous divide with unprotected workers in   developing countries left with the toxic legacy.

Behind the story

Mid-2008   a Greenpeace team including campaigner Kim Schoppink and photographer Kate   Davison went to Ghana to document and gather evidence of what really happens   to our electronic waste.

Source: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/features/poisoning-the-poor-electroni/

Links to other resources Earth Times: http://www.earthtimes.org/environment/waste/

Fabrice Babin’s 2011 film on e-waste in Ghana: http://www.javafilms.fr/spip.php?article632

The Story of Electronics : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G49q6uPcwY8&feature=list_other&playnext=1&list=SP77CE8943362CB9B0

Electronic Waste in Ghana

 

Title Electronic Waste in Ghana
Director(s) Greenpeace International
Date released (year) 2008
Production company Greenpeace International
Length 16.14mins
Location Ghana
Keywords/tags Toxic waste, dumping, neoliberalism
Link to film http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/features/poisoning-the-poor-electroni/
Synopsis The latest place where we have discovered   high tech toxic trash causing horrendous pollution is in Ghana. Our analysis   of samples taken from two electronic waste (e-waste) scrap yards in Ghana has   revealed severe contamination with hazardous chemicals.

                                                                       

Boys burning electronic cables and other   electrical components in order to melt off the plastic and reclaim the copper   wiring. This burning in small fires releases toxic chemicals into the   environment.

The ever-growing demand for the latest   fashionable mobile phone, flat screen TV or super-fast computer creates ever   larger amounts of obsolete electronics that are often laden with toxic   chemicals like lead, mercury and brominated flame retardants. Rather than   being safely recycled, much of this e-waste gets dumped in developing   countries. Previously, we have exposed pollution from e-waste scrap yards in China and India. Nigeria has also   been identified as a dumping ground for old electronics.

During our investigation into the shady e-waste trade, we uncovered evidence that e-waste is   being exported, often illegally, to Ghana from Europe and the US. We visited   Ghana to investigate workplace contamination from e-waste recycling and   disposal in the country.

In the yards, unprotected workers, many of   them children, dismantle computers and TVs with little more then stones in   search of metals that can be sold. The remaining plastic, cables and casing   is either burnt or simply dumped Some of   the samples contained toxic metals including lead in quantities as much as   one hundred times above background levels. Other chemicals such as   phthalates, some of which are known to interfere with sexual reproduction,   were found in most of the samples tested.  One sample also contained a   high level of chlorinated dioxins, known to promote cancer.

Dr. Kevin Bridgen, from our science unit,   has visited scrap yards in China, India and Ghana: “Many of the   chemicals released are highly toxic, some may affect children’s developing   reproductive systems, while others can affect brain development and the   nervous system.  In Ghana, China and India, workers, many of them   children, may be substantially exposed to these hazardous chemicals.”

Source: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/features/poisoning-the-poor-electroni/

Reviews/discussion Greenpeace’s   supporting discussion:

How does it get to   Ghana?

Containers filled with old and often broken   computers, monitors and TVs – from brands including Philips, Canon, Dell,   Microsoft, Nokia, Siemens and Sony – arrive in Ghana from Germany, Korea,   Switzerland and the Netherlands under the false label of “second-hand   goods”. Exporting e-waste from Europe is illegal but exporting old   electronics for ‘reuse’ allows unscrupulous traders to profit from dumping   old electronics in Ghana. The majority of the containers’ contents end up in   Ghana’s scrap yards to be crushed and burned by unprotected workers. Some traders report that   to get a shipping container with a few working computers they must accept   broken junk like old screens in the same container from exporters in   developed countries.

What’s the   solution?

While working computers and mobile phones   can have a new lease of life in some African countries, they create pollution   when thrown away due to the high levels of toxic chemicals they contain. This   is why we are pressuring the biggest electronic companies to   phase out toxic chemicals and introduce global recycling schemes. Both of   these steps are vital to tackle the growing tide of toxic e-waste.

Some companies are making progress towards   taking responsibility for the entire lifecycle of their products. However, Philips and Sharp stand out for refusing to accept that they are   responsible for recycling their old products. The stance of these powerful   multinationals is ensuring there will always be a digital divide that they   prefer remains hidden, a dangerous divide with unprotected workers in   developing countries left with the toxic legacy.

Behind the story

Mid-2008   a Greenpeace team including campaigner Kim Schoppink and photographer Kate   Davison went to Ghana to document and gather evidence of what really happens   to our electronic waste.

Source: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/features/poisoning-the-poor-electroni/

Links to other resources Earth   Times: http://www.earthtimes.org/environment/waste/

Fabrice Babin’s 2011 film on e-waste in Ghana: http://www.javafilms.fr/spip.php?article632

The Story of Electronics : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G49q6uPcwY8&feature=list_other&playnext=1&list=SP77CE8943362CB9B0

Durban Reality Tour

 

Title Durban Reality Tour
Director(s) Pamela Ngwenya
Date released (year) 2009
Production company Malinga Productions
Length 28 mins
Location Durban, South Africa
Keywords/tags Dumping, toxic waste,   sustainability, informal settlements
Link to film https://vimeo.com/10374472

Durban Reality Tour from Pamela Ngwenya on Vimeo.

Synopsis On 4th November 2009, the Centre for Civil   Society at the University of KwaZulu-Natal led a tour of Durban that conveys   the gritty reality faced by ordinary Durbanites. This video documents the   highlights of the tour, including the ‘toxic’ South Durban Industrial Basin,   the tented community of Crossmoor and, on a more positive note, the   development of an organic community garden and biodigester in the township of   Cato Manor.
Reviews/discussion When critically‑minded people   visit Durban and seek out a ‘reality tour’ typically denied by the mainstream   tourist circuit, one of the stops is the Centre for Civil Society at the   University of KwaZulu‑Natal. Located at the highest point in Durban (the top   floors of Memorial Tower Building in Glenwood), the Centre introduces   sympathetic visitors to the work of leading social activists and environmentalists.   The sites that kombi‑taxis arranged by CCS reach include an inner‑city tense   with resistance to xenophobia and gentrification, the largest petrochemical complex   in a residential area in Africa, a variety of shack settlements and working‑class   ‘African’, ‘Indian’ and ‘coloured’ neighbourhoods, the hotly‑contested source   of Durban’s water at Inanda Dam, and the university environs.

Source: http://ccs.ukzn.ac.za/default.asp?10,14

John Vidal   in Durban, www.guardian.co.uk, Tuesday   6 December 2011: Why south   Durban stinks of rotten cabbage, eggs and cat wee

In the ‘centre of   toxic Africa’, residents say they can identify nausea, drowsiness, vomiting   and headaches by industrial sources.

There’s the metaphorical whiff of diplomats burning the midnight oil to   find a deal at the the UN climate talks. But 5km away in south Durban, the   air really does smell of rotten cabbage, cat wee and almonds.

With two crude oil refineries, South Africa‘s two biggest paper   mills, its biggest container port, a dozen chemical companies, several major   landfill sites and a huge number of factories together producing 80% of South Africa‘s oil   products and much of its industrial emissions, south Durban locals have   learned to identify the coughs, nausea, drowsiness, vomiting and headaches   they suffer by their sources.

Oil companies are said to create a stink of a cocktail of rotten eggs and   burned matches, a carworks reeks of ethanol and the vinegar smell comes from   a leather company.

(Contd…)

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/dec/06/south-durban-industrial-pollution

South African   Environmental Justice struggles against “toxic” petrochemical   industries in South Durban: The Engen Refinery Case

This   case study explores the South Durban community’s struggle against   disproportionate exposure to a hazardous environment and sulphur dioxide   pollution, and at the same time, being faced with “clear and   present” health hazards linked to petrochemical industrial production.   To unpack the environmental justice challenges facing post-apartheid South   Africa, the case study examines the role played by the South Durban Community   Environmental Alliance in articulating environmental injustices and poor   environmental responsibility of the petrochemical industry in South Africa.

Source:   http://www.umich.edu/~snre492/brian.html

Links to other resources Africa’s Biggest Landfill Site: The Case Of Bisasar   Road | by Patrick Bond and Khadija Sharife: http://www.amandlapublishers.co.za/amandla-blog/patrick-bond/1196-africas-biggest-landfill-site-the-case-of-bisasar-road–by-patrick-bond-and-khadija-sharife

The Diamond Empire

Title The Diamond Empire
Director(s) Gavin MacFadyen
Date   released (year) 1994
Production   company Laurie Flynn
Length 102 mins
Location Africa
Keywords/tags Diamonds, colonialism, mining, natural   resources
Link to   film http://freedocumentaries.org/int.php?filmID=260
Synopsis How an advertising slogan invented by Madison Avenue executives in 1948   has come to define our most intimate rituals and ideals around courtship and   marriage is the subject of this devastating documentary. THE DIAMOND EMPIRE,   which sent shockwaves through the world diamond industry when it first   appeared, systematically takes apart the myth that “diamonds are   forever,” exposing how one white South African family, through a process   of monopoly and fantasy, managed to exert control over the global flow of   diamonds and shape the very way we think about romance and love is an   achievement all the more stunning given that diamonds are in fact neither a   scarce nor indestructible commodity. Zeroing in on how “the diamond   empire” managed to convert something valueless into one of the most   coveted commodities in history, the film provides a riveting look at how   marketing and consumer culture not only influence global trade and economics,   but also burrow down into the very core of our identities. Most of the major   diamond producers belong to, or have cooperated with, the De Beers led   marketing cartel, formed to maintain the price of diamonds at a high level.   De Beers, under Harry Oppenheimer’s leadership, maintained its dominant   position in the industry by using its numerous worldwide companies to buy up   new sources of diamonds and to control distribution of industrial diamonds   and production of synthetic ones. In the last decades of the 20th cent.,   however, De Beers’ hold over the unpolished diamond market decreased, and in   2000 the company announced it would end to its policy of controlling diamond   prices through hoarding and shift its focus to increasing sales.

Source: http://freedocumentaries.org/int.php?filmID=260

Reviews/discussion “In all my years of teaching,   this is the single most important video I have ever shown. No film has proven   as successful in showing students how a major part of their identities has   been constructed by a corporate, commercial culture. This movie changes the   way we see the world.”
– Sut Jhally | Department of Communications | UMass AmherstSource: http://www.mediaed.org/cgi-bin/commerce.cgi?preadd=action&key=136#film-praise
Links to   other resources
Madihlaba, T.   The Fox in the Henhouse: the environmental impact of diamond mining on   communities in South Africa. In McDonald, D. (ed.) Environmental Justice in South Africa,   University of Cape Town Press, CT, pp.156-167Diamond Mining and the Environment Factsheet: http://www.diamondfacts.org/pdfs/media/media_resources/fact_sheets/Diamond_Mining_Environment_Fact_Sheet.pdf

The Greener Diamond: http://thegreenerdiamond.org/pages/about-conflict-diamonds/impact-on-the-environment.php

Zimbabwe diamond circuit: http://100r.org/2013/02/disappearing-diamonds/

Blood diamond” regulation system broken   – but where to look for blame? By Khadija Sharife and Nick Meynen, http://www.minesandcommunities.org/article.php?a=11968