The Chinese have been investing heavily in Africa, mostly to secure the natural resources needed to fuel the electronics manufacturing process supplying the entire globe. While the West pours in humanitarian aid, Beijing puts its money into building infrastructure and mining projects, co-opting local governments only too happy for the boost in revenue. Is this some kind of sinister economic colonialism? The question remains unanswered by this Zambia-set observational documentary from the Francis siblings – previously responsible for the underwhelming coffee industry study ‘Black Gold’ – which plays like an assembly of location footage put together without an over-riding purpose. It’s moderately engaging to see Chinese farmers and construction managers battle local difficulties, or the Zambian Minister of Trade press Chinese flesh, but the film lacks conclusive pointing or much genuine drama. The Chinese want to be there, the Zambians want them there, so where’s the conflict? Capable enough as on-the-ground reportage, this doesn’t have the joined-up thinking to stand as a feature documentary.
Friday October 7 2011
Marc Francis, Nick Francis