Film and TV

Black Gold

Sorry to harsh your buzz, but that four-dollar latte purchase of yours often yields little or almost nothing for the African bean harvesters who made it possible. No mere Western guilt-inducing harangue, Black Gold is a highly informative documentary by British brothers Marc and Nick Francis. Its calmly accumulated details of the cruelly exploitative global coffee trade pay off in sequences that juxtapose clueless U.S. caffeine peddlers and consumers with, for example, images of southern Ethiopian coffee-farm kids seeking scarce hospital care for their malnutrition. The doc's measured hope comes in the form of globe-trotting union rep Tadesse Meskela, whose Oromo Coffee Farmers Co-op strives to circumvent stock-exchange price-fixing by working directly with fair-trade advocates who buy high-quality beans for something closer to what they're actually worth. Still, the filmmakers' inclusion of WTO "talks" that take place behind closed doors hardly minimizes the power of multinational java corporations or lets the latte-lover off the hook. No room for cream here, but the documentary does work as a wake-up call. Black Gold screens at Starz FilmCenter in the Tivoli; visit for tickets and showtimes
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Rob Nelson
Contact: Rob Nelson