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Black Gold (2006)

Tadesse Meskela , Marc Francis and Nick Francis  |  DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

Price: $26.95 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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Product Details

  • Actors: Tadesse Meskela
  • Directors: Marc Francis and Nick Francis
  • Format: NTSC
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Studio: Speak It Films in association with Fulcrum Productions
  • DVD Release Date: August 7, 2007
  • Run Time: 78 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0011Z1SIQ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #87,179 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Black Gold" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews


The documentary is as riveting and jaw-dropping as anything currently starring Leonardo DiCaprio. But Black Gold transcends both dramatization and the dry presentational quality of a film like An Inconvenient Truth by telling the story of Ethiopia's coffee farmers like the epic tragedy that it is. --Corina Chocano, L.A. TIMES

Black Gold goes beyond giving Starbucks sippers guilt trips. It gives a fascinating and nearly forgotten history of coffee in Ethiopia. --Delfin Vigil, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE

This passionate little flim is here to convince you that educated consumers can decide who wins. --Janice Page, BOSTON GLOBE

Product Description

Film is for HOME USE ONLY! Copies for public screenings or use in the classroom can be purchased from California Newsreel at www(dot)newsreel(dot)org
After oil, coffee is the most actively traded commodity in the world. But for every $2 cup of coffee, a farmer receives only a few pennies. Black Gold asks us to face the unjust conditions under which our favorite drink is produced and to decide what we can do about it. The film traces the tangled trail from the two billion cups of coffee consumed each day back to the coffee farmers who produce the beans. Founder of the Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union, Tadesse Meskela is fighting to help his 70,000 Ethiopian coffee farmers by seeking out buyers willing to pay a fair price. Through his journey, Tadesse begins to expose the web of greed and corruption inherent to the international trading system, including the World Trade Organization. Black Gold reminds viewers of their power to affect positive social change by way of their consumer vote. After seeing this film your coffee will never taste the same.
Film contains overprinting warning against public use in 3 points during the film, at 5 second intervals.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wake Up and Smell the Coffee March 31, 2008
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.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad February 17, 2008
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.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars From the coffee fields to Starbucks, via the WTO September 2, 2008
By rudiger
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....
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars enlightening! March 8, 2009
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!
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