A Wake Up Call for Economic Equity
Tribune movie review of Black Gold
A Wake-Up Call For Economic Equity `Black Gold' (star)(star)(star)
Michael Phillips, Tribune movie critic Published October 13, 2006
Coffee is an $80 billion-a-year business, and amazingly not all of it goes to Starbucks. Some of it ends up in the hands of criminally underpaid farmers who pick the beans and the criminally underpaid factory workers who sort them and bag them.
"Black Gold," a strong documentary from Nick Francis and Marc Francis, is guaranteed to make you think twice about what you're paying for what you're drinking. Their subject is Tadesse Meskela, who runs the Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union representing the interests and beans of some 74,000 coffee farmers. Shot largely (and beautifully) in Ethiopia, "Black Gold" reveals the obstacles a man like Meskela is up against, from the multinational corporations that dominate and determine global market prices, to crushing, famine-ridden poverty all across Ethiopia. The movie makes sidetrips to Seattle, New York, northern Italy (for a visit with the Illy family of caffeine maniacs) and elsewhere, but at heart this is a story of Ethiopia. At the time of filming coffee farmers repped by Meskela were getting 30-year-low prices for their crop. Message: Drink free-trade coffee, and you'll improve somebody's life virtually overnight.
Runs through Thursday at the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State St.; 312-846-2600 or 312-846-2800 or siskelfilmcenter.org. Running time: 1:18.
No MPAA rating.
Copyright © 2006, Chicago Tribune
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