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Black Gold

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Product Details

  • Format: NTSC
  • Studio: Mongrel Media
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • ASIN: B000JVT20O
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #84,280 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)

Product Description


"Mesmerising!" -- Seattle Times

"Riveting and jaw dropping!" -- L.A. Times

"Wake up and smell the coffee with this probe into the global grind behind your indulgent bracing as a double espresso." -- Geoff Pevere, TORONTO STAR

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Most helpful customer reviews

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By millie on April 27 2007
Format: DVD
Sorry for the cliche, but it really is something everyone must see. Every dollar you spend is a vote for what you believe in. In North America we really need to be more conscious of where our products come from and how our purchasing patterns affect people around the world who supply us our goods. Coffee's current popularity and it's outrageous price make this film painfully relevant.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 12 reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Wake Up and Smell the Coffee March 31 2008
By Bryan A. Pfleeger - Published on
As a coffee drinker I've been wanting to see this film for a long time. Having read about it at Ironweed I've been looking for a way to purchase it. Living in post-Katrina New Orleans one does not have the pleasure of many new documentary screenings. I finally found a copy at a Company called California Newsreel and purchased it immediately.

The film gives its viewer a stark view of how an everyday product gets to its end user. Here the product is coffee. Nick and Marc Francis take their audience on quite a journey in a mere 78 minutes. We go from the verdant coffee fields of Ethiopia to the floor of the New York Commodities Market to Italy to London and finally to Cancun for a meeting of the World Trade Organization.

The film follows the struggles of Tedesse Maskela of the Oromia Coffee Growers Cooperative to get a better price for his farmers for the beans they sell. It is a story of the haves and the have nots. Against the beautiful backdrops of Ethiopia we witness first hand the poverty of the growers who are making less and less for a commodity that appears to be only going up in price. The film really gets to you in that the unfairness of the current system really comes into view. There is much more here than the importance of a "fair trade" price for a product. This is a narrative concerning the survival of a culture and a way of life.

In a way this is a vibrant picture of the entire third world agricultural system. We would rather provide continuing aid than self reliance.The system has the ability to pull itself up by its bootstraps with true help not handouts. This is the message that Meskela ultimately gets across.

This is an important documentary that needs to be seen by a large group of people. Let's hope the message gets out before its too late.

Wake up and smell the coffee.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
From the coffee fields to Starbucks, via the WTO Sept. 2 2008
By rudiger - Published on
To me the beauty of this film is that it uncovers an entire commodity chain from end to end. You may be astounded at how little you know about coffee and how it gets to your cup. Were you aware, for instance, that "hand-picked" means not that the beans were removed from the coffee bush by hand (though they may well have been), but that they were laboriously finger-sorted, one at a time, by people halfway around the world? The film provides glimpses of the various actors involved in this commodity chain, from the farmers to the buyers to the sorters to the importers to the baristas. It even shows participants in a global conference on commodity trading. In doing so it may raise certain questions for you. Why do the Ethiopian farmers, who work so incredibly hard, have almost nothing to show for their labors? How do a few people manage to get so rich from this business? Is there a better way to trade in goods around the world?

My only complaint about this DVD is the annoying message that pops up on screen every 20 minutes warning that the disc is for private home use only, and is not to be shown for commercial or classroom purposes. I've never seen this on any other DVD. So if you are thinking about buying this DVD from Amazon to show in a class, be warned! Instead you will probably have to pay through the nose to get it from California Newsreel, the dirty dogs....
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Not bad Feb. 17 2008
By Autodidact - Published on
The film "Black Gold" focuses on an Ethiopian farmer's cooperative seeking to increase the price received by its farmers for coffee production. In the course of things, it touches on the role of the middlemen, the WTO, food aid, aid versus trade, U.S. and European agricultural subsidies and the extreme poverty of Ethiopian coffee farmers. It is beautifully done; sometimes visually stunning.

My frustration with it was the limited informational content. Much -- perhaps half -- of the film is focused on illustrating the extreme poverty of Ethiopian farmers, interspersed with long shots of Western coffee drinkers and barista contests. This is an important point, but it really doesn't take that much footage of watching Westerners enjoy their coffee to get it across, and it comes at the expense of other substantive points. Like, what does the WTO have to do with coffee production? The film hints that by protecting Western subsidies the WTO depresses agricultural prices and makes it unprofitable for Africans to produce other export crops, but that point goes by so quickly that you have to be sure not to blink. Instead, we have people complaining about how the WTO works, without any explicit tie in to the our coffee story.

At one point the film seems to be espousing the labor theory of value, implying that farmers should make decent incomes because they work hard, even if they are producing something that no one wants to pay them for. The real story -- and again, this is hinted at but never explicitly set out or explored -- is that we are not dealing with a competitive market here, which is why the farmers are not getting the full value of their production.

Another implicit story is how vulnerable farmers are to swings in world prices. But of course, that's why the Europeans and the U.S. introduced farm subsidies in the first place.

This film is frustrating because it could have been so much more, although I'm sure it will be an eye opener for people who don't know low-income country poverty.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
enlightening! March 8 2009
By R. Monteclar - Published on
Viewing this documentary was utterly shocking-- and I could only commiserate on the anguish of these poor Ethiopian coffee farmers.
What really moved me was when they had a group meeting and decided to open up a school for their kids-- to be financed by their meager earnings.
Preachers of globalization, kindly take a look!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A Must See Oct. 17 2008
By R. Clark - Published on
Verified Purchase
What is behind your cup of coffee? You are actually drinking sweat and tears of people in developing countries.

This Ethiopean story applies to vast majority of producing countries.

This is an alarming, eye-opening story for everyone. Two thumbs up and A Must See!!!!

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