"Why do you call it Obama's Law," I asked one of the miners we met in eastern Congo. "We say Obama's Law because the law that stopped the mining here came from America", he answered.
The Dodd Frank Act is a U.S. law predominantly addressing Wall Street reform, containing section 1502 on conflict minerals from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). This section was borne out of passionate activism across the States. In this video, Director Seth Chase explains more:
* A quick note: the DRC is a French-speaking country and so a large part of our audience are French speakers. In order to include our French-speaking audience in the campaign we translated our rewards into French in each category. So, for our French-speaking friends: Pour nos amis francophones: s'il vous plaît, veuillez regarder la vidéo de Guillaume ci-dessous et choisissez parmi les contributions/récompenses mentionnées en français (à droite)".*
Our documentary explores the results of the activism aimed at the DRC. Have you ever wondered what happens after activism explodes across Facebook and YouTube? We wanted to find out and then show you. There are no "good guys" and "bad guys". This film is more intelligent than that.
A recent advocacy campaign in America connects the war in the Congo to the cell phone in your pocket and is representative of a new form of celebrity-led activism with the goal of a policy response. We've found that well-intentioned activism can create a lot of problems for people on the ground in the Congo, where it's aimed. We posted a series of videos from Congolese experts who talk about this very phenomenon on our website www.obamaslaw.com. As we mentioned, this campaign led to the Dodd Frank Act containing section 1502 on conflict minerals being passed in Washington. Our film explores what happened on the ground in the Congo as this law was implemented from the perspective of miners, families, community leaders, civil society activists, and businessmen and businesswomen involved in Congolese mining.
Chin Chang is one of the miners we met. Check him out in the video below. How can you not love this guy? There are a million more like him!
We were motivated to make this film because we didn't have good answers to the following questions: What are the real life consequences of this law on the ground? What are the consequences for smartphone users like you and I who want to know that the gadgets we are using are conflict free? What happens to the trillion-dollar mining industry? Who does the law benefit and who does it hurt?
Section 1502 of Dodd Frank is currently under review in Washington, has been passed in Canada, and is under consideration for adoption by the European Commission in 2014. More and more countries are gaining interest in the issue. Policy-makers and private sector stakeholders are learning that a more nuanced global debate on conflict mineral legislation is necessary. And we believe Congolese civil society must be heard on policy that has such a massive impact in their own country.
The film will also show how to support and promote sustainable socio-economic improvements in areas of the world affected by conflict.
We've completed a shoot in the Congo as well as in Europe. These funds will get us through our second shoot in the Congo and our final shoot in America. We're happy to email you our budget if you'd like to see the financial breakdown. Our website gives a comprehensive view of our project and its impact to date.
We can't thank you enough for checking us out. It means a lot to us.
Risks and challenges
In the DRC there are always levels of resistance when engaged on a politically sensitive issue like mining because it relates to issues of corruption and human rights abuses within the ranks of local governing authorities, chiefs of local mining groups, police, and rebel groups. This being said, we have lived and worked in the region for several years and during that time we’ve developed effective local networks that enable us to secure the required permits to film and move within the region in relative safety and security. We have unique access to the subject matter in the DRC through our professional experiences in the country. Ben Radley has worked on miners' rights in the DRC for the last two years. Seth Chase and Guillaume de Brier have large networks within documentary media in the African Great Lakes region as a whole. These networks includes full access to miners and mining cooperatives, civil society leaders, government officials, mining experts, and academics. We have already interviewed many of these key actors. Additionally, because Seth Chase is American, he can access the policy makers and activists in the United States engaged on the issue, many of whom we already have established relationships with through our past work. We are currently in communication with several of these contacts in preparation for a two-week shoot on the East Coast in March, 2014. Last June we successfully conducted our primary film shoot in eastern Congo, which proceeded successfully and without incident. With your help, we can finish our final shoot in eastern Congo as well as remaining film shoot in the U.S.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (33 days)