Browse > Home / Archive: May 2006

| Subcribe via RSS

Diamonds are not Africa’s best friend

May 23rd, 2006 | No Comments | Posted in Fashion, Film/Television, Music, Politics

Kareem_Edouard_Bling: Consequences and RepercussionsFor the past year and a half the issue effort to stop the trade of conflict or blood diamonds has been kicked into overdrive. With mounting pressure from the UN and many humanitarian organizations especially Amnesty International, diamond manufacturers and retailers have been under severe pressure to clean up their act. Having lived off the sweat and blood of exploited miners for years, the issue was recently exposed when hip-hop artist Kanye West released “Diamonds from Sierra Leone” from his album Late Registration. With an intro from Sierra Leonean hip hop artist Chosan, the video was a powerful one which used images such as a woman’s hand turning to blood when her suitor placed an engagement ring on it.

With many grassroots organizations doing their part to force diamond manufacturers to stop making a profit off of wars in places like Sierra Leone and Liberia, the controversy is about to be thrust into the spotlight yet again with the December release of Warner Bros.’ “The Blood Diamond” starring Leonardo DiCaprio (Titanic, The Aviator) and Djimon Hounsou (Amistad, The Island). While films such as Kareem Edouard’s Bling: Consequences and Repercussions do a good job on highlighting the diamond manufacturers’ reliance on consumer ignorance, “The Blood Diamond” is a fictional Hollywood-style movie which could either help or hurt the international effort to make DeBeers and others accountable. All reports, though, point to the movie glossing over the issue altogether. We’ll see in December.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Creating an African film experience

May 8th, 2006 | No Comments | Posted in Film/Television, Politics, Travel
Mahamat-Saleh Haroun directs Dry SeasonChadian filmmaker Mahamat-Saleh Haroun is dedicated to his craft. Like many African born filmmakers he is intent of furthering the African experience through film. Using his country, Chad, as a backdrop he is currently at work on another film that puts a face on the people who experience the challenges of living on the continent. A recent Washington Post article talks about the lengths to which he and his crew are going to make his movie Dry Season authentic. To some extent his filmmaking style is more documentary than entertainment. His previous films Bye Bye Africa and Abouna similarly put a face on the 30-year Chadian civil war.
Mr. Haroun is one of many filmmakers who are creating great films without the support or existence of a native filmmaking industry. Besides the virtual nonexistence of a film community and ongoing political repression, many African filmmakers also face the challenge of seeking funding abroad with "many international donors viewing the arts as a luxury in times of food shortages, health crises and other emergencies". Fueled by their travels and a new access to resources not available in their countries, more and more Africans are using their artistic vision to tell stories of Africa as they have experienced it. Last November in New York City, I got a chance to see one of the movies cited in the Post article, Hip Hop Colony, sweep the H20 (Hip-Hop Odyssey) International Film Festival Odyssey awards, winning the Best Feature Documentary award and the Heineken Emerging Filmmaker Award. Along with Bling: Consequences and Repercussions, Hip Hop Colony was a highlight at the festival, bringing Africa-themed films to the forefront. South African film Tsotsi's win (Best Foreign Language Film of the Year) at February's Academy Awards has given African film a new life and with more structure they will stand a better chance of getting funding and distribution to the world.
"Africa has such a terrible image," said Issa Traoré de Brahima, a filmmaker from Burkina Faso who was working on the Chadian film. "And at the same time, we have so many talented people with artists' souls. We just wish they didn't have to leave the continent to earn a living. But in some places that is slowly changing."

Fatal error: Call to undefined function related_posts() in /home/sites/site97/web/blog/wp-content/plugins/exec-php/includes/runtime.php(42) : eval()'d code on line 6