From the creator of Ice Road Truckers and Deadliest Catch comes a one-of-a-kind series about Texas oil men who gamble everything for a chance to make millions. This season of Black Gold ... See full summary »
Gerald R. Williams,
If you didn't already know that coffee is big business, then Nick and Mark Francis's documentary should hammer that fact in. "Black Gold" could have quite easily become another impassioned and reckless rail against globalisation but you get the sense that the brothers kept their eyes on the numbers, and directed from their head and not their hearts. Therein lies the film's main problem facts are boring. It's neither harrowing nor heartfelt. The documentary is bluntly informative of the disparate levels in income of the Ethiopian farmers and the corporations that buy the beans from them on the cheap, and it's quite competent in enlightening consumers of the buried cost of a $5 latte. And on that level, it succeeds. Somewhat admirably, they lionise the Ethiopian people, both the underpaid farmers and the ones who refuse to partake in the hopeless work. But you can also observe that the Francis brothers were hoping for something more from their primary subject, Tadesse Meskela, a high-level representative from the Oromia Coffee Farmers Co-operative Union. The directors do place him on a pedestal for most of the film, even to the extent of including an embarrassingly effusive interview from Meskela's wife as the man proudly looks on.
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