Africa only seems to get face time in the news when Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are on the scene. Bill Maher called this a coup on a recent episode of his HBO news show, extolling the actors for forcing news cameras to go to places in the world that most need our humanitarian attention, but the couple’s lecherous gawker stalkers are not so easily swayed by the wretchedness of the world: to them, Africa’s misery is a buzzkill (for proof, check out Gawker‘s insulting reaction to Jolie’s sit-down with Anderson Cooper), and if they had their way, they’d erase the bags of rice Pitt piles onto aid trucks and the starving children Jolie holds in her arms from pictures buzzing in from the continent. Which is to say, the priorities of the Western world are seriously whack, a perversity director brothers Nick Francis and Marc Francis diagnose throughout Black Gold, a documentary about a vigilant Ethiopian man’s efforts to save his cooperative of struggling coffee farmers from bankruptcy. This is a startling story of a continent excluded from world trade and wanting to wean itself off foreign aid. The humanitarian neglect implicit in the vast divide between the world of an impoverished Ethiopian farmer and the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (and the auditoriums of pretentious coffee-brewing competitions) speaks for itself, and just as the film’s dialogue begins to repeat itself, the filmmakers pull out their trump cards, revealing how the scant return Tadesse Meskele’s cooperative of 75,000 farmers see for all their hard labor has led to a global drug boom (a narcotic called “chat” turns a better profit than the coffee bean) and abject poverty in Ethiopia. This is something to think about every time you order a Triple Grande Soy Latte.
- California Newsreel
- 78 min
- Mark Francis, Nick Francis
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