Black Of Gold Nick and Marc Francis

Black Gold is about the world’s other big, dark commodity: coffee. This acclaimed, eye-opening documentary juxtaposes scenes of African jungles with Italian cafés and the New York Stock Exchange to paint a tapestry of Third World exploitation. In untangling the web of global coffee production, the British filmmakers begin in the birthplace of coffee: Ethiopia. Two-thirds of Ethiopia’s exporting income comes from this bean and plunging world prices are starving millions of farmers and their families. Crusader Tadesse Meskela runs a farmers co-op and travels the world selling their coffees at a decent rate. This means cutting out many of the middlemen who multiply the cost ten times from jungle to café. Meskela is up against the stock markets of New York and London, which dictate how much baristas charge an oblivious public. One dreamy Starbucks manager in Seattle insists she isn’t in "the coffee serving industry” but in "the people touching business,” given how her coffee moves people’s lives. That’s true; the people of Sidama, Ethopia, which supplies Starbucks its coffee beans, have been plunged into famine. Western corporations aren’t the only culprits, however. The World Trade Organization stacks the deck against poor countries by dictating trade rules that exploit developing countries. In a rare sign of hope the Third World is starting to reject these agreements. In the past eight months alone, Black Gold has enjoyed success at Sundance, Hot Docs and a recent theatrical release. Unfortunately, the DVD offers no extras. Pity, such a good film deserves a better DVD treatment. (Mongrel Media)