(San Francisco, CA)—END OF THE RAINBOW is an in-depth look at the impact of global mining on local populations, their economy, their traditions and their environment. It depicts in striking detail the confrontation of two cultures—one indigenous, the other a unique reflection of the age of globalization. Using a gold mine in Guinea to look at how concessions granted to transnational corporations play out in local communities, the film reveals that most often, people trade one set of hardships for another. A film by Robert Nugent, END OF THE RAINBOW will air on the PBS WORLD series Global Voices on Sunday, August 30, 2009, at 10pm (check local listings).
END OF THE RAINBOW shows the piece-by-piece dismantling of a massive gold mining operation in Borneo, then follows its reconstruction in northeastern Guinea and its impact on a Guinean village near where the gold mine was rebuilt after the mining company negotiated a secret royalty arrangement with the local government, a governing body noted for its corruption. Although the terms of the royalty contract are secret, one thing is known: The local population receives only 0.4 percent of the profits from the mine.
The chief of the Guinean village and the mine’s chief engineer, who is English, guide us through the two sides of the issue. The Guinean village had been an agrarian community. Families eked out a living from the ground with short-handled hoes and earned extra income panning for their own gold in the dry season. To make way for the new mine, whole villages had to be relocated; although the company compensated the farmers for their holdings, several were unwilling to leave. But some of the local men received well-paying jobs at the mine. Discos opened and the Guinean miners began to adapt to a modern consumer lifestyle.
The mine’s chief engineer and his international team of expats created a culture of their own, the center of which is a whites-only pub equipped with satellite television, copious liquor and the flags of a dozen nations. The mine manager ruefully admits that he lives only for the moment and has no home, no savings, no family and no hobbies, unless you count his work. He and the other whites are full-fledged citizens of the new global economy.
Soon conflict breaks out as drought brings hunger to the village. The farmers can no longer supplement their income by panning for gold since the company now owns the fields. The once tranquil landscape is ravaged by a Dante-esque pit—fouled by poisonous, cyanide-laced water and in constant danger of cave-ins.
Determined to keep the locals out, ostensibly for reasons of safety, the mine turns over enforcement to the Guinean army, whose soldiers are shockingly abusive to their fellow citizens. At a community meeting, the chief insists that “the poor have rights too,” but he is powerless in the face of the company and the government. He can only conclude that “the gods who protected Africa have abandoned us.”
Evenhanded and thoughtful, END OF THE RAINBOW tells a firsthand story of a world changing forever, one of countless similar stories being played out around the globe in which people are struggling between a difficult past and an uncertain future.
About the Filmmaker
Robert Nugent (Director) was born and raised in Asbury, New South Wales. Instead of taking over the family printing business, he left home and labored in the steel works at Wollongong. He then moved to Arm dale to study natural resource management. He worked on a World Bank project in Somalia, where he met an old locust hunter. When he finished his degree, he got a job in Broken Hill chasing locusts all over inland Australia. He loved the outback and learned to fly, running around in small planes over the deserts. After the locusts, he was lucky enough to get a job with an indigenous organization in Alice Springs. The locusts caught up with him again after three years, and he left Alice Springs for Darwin and started working for the United Nations, running projects in war zones, against locusts in Afghanistan and rice pests in Cambodia.
Never without a camera, Nugent left the United Nations after 11 years and earned a master’s degree in documentary filmmaking at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School. Then he spent a year interviewing Australian war veterans, chasing the memory of his father, who had never spoken of his wartime experiences. He is currently working on a film for the Australian War Memorial, editing footage that he took when he was an official cinematographer for them in Iraq, in 2006. He has a company called Visible Impact Assessment, which looks at how film can be used by communities to monitor and evaluate change; the company has projects in the works in Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia. Nugent is currently developing a film on war and locusts.
About Global Voices
Global Voices is produced by ITVS International, a division of Independent Television Service (ITVS). It airs on the PBS WORLD digital channel on Sundays at 10pm (check local listings). The 26-week series brings to a national audience internationally themed documentaries made by U.S.-based and international filmmakers. This season, the series will feature the U.S. premieres of seven documentaries funded by ITVS International as well as encore broadcasts of other acclaimed ITVS programs. For more information about Global Voices, visit www.pbs.org/globalvoices. Encore presentations include the highly acclaimed THE NEW AMERICANS; 2005 Emmy Award nominee AFGHANISTAN UNVEILED; the 2007 duPont Award winner, SEOUL TRAIN; winner of the 2002 Special Jury Award at the Sundance Film Festival, SEÑORITA EXTRAVIADA; and the award-winning THE DEVIL’S MINER. \
About ITVS International
ITVS International is a division of Independent Television Service that promotes an international exchange of documentary films made by independent producers, bringing international voices to U.S. audiences and American stories to audiences abroad. Through a unique public-private partnership called the Global Perspectives Project, ITVS International administers the International Media Development Fund (IMDF) and True Stories: Life in the USA. The IMDF funds international producers and supports the American broadcast of their programs. True Stories: Life in the USA promotes a series of American independent films to audiences around the world. ITVS created the Global Perspectives Project in 2005 with support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the U.S. Department of State. More information about ITVS International is available online at http://www.itvs.org/international.
About PBS WORLD
PBS WORLD features documentary, public affairs and news programming from a number of public television’s award-winning signature series and acclaimed independent filmmakers. Produced and distributed by PBS, WGBH Boston and Thirteen/WNET New York, in association with American Public Television and the National Education Telecommunications Association, PBS WORLD launched on 55 stations across the country, representing 24 licensees and reaching more than 27 percent of U.S. households. In most markets, PBS WORLD programming is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Programming on PBS WORLD includes such popular and critically acclaimed series as American Experience, Frontline, History Detectives, Nature, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, Nova, Scientific American Frontiers and The Tavis Smiley Show.
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