• In fact, many jewelers do not yet know that they can be found guilty of failing to fight money laundering under the new USA PATRIOT Act regulations, even if they are innocent of money laundering themselves. |
NGO’s - ACCUSE INDUSTRY OF FAILING TO KEEP PROMISES |
|In a June 7th article on www.idexonline.com the diamond industry was accused of “failing to deliver on its promises to keep conflict diamonds out of the legitimate trade and appears more worried about heading off bad publicity from the upcoming Leonardo DiCaprio film, The Blood Diamond, than meeting its pledges to the international community,” says the campaigning group Global Witness.|
- “The diamond industry is paying little more than lip-service to the system of self-regulation, launched three years ago, which is intended to help stop diamonds from funding civil wars,” said Corinna Gilfillan of Global Witness, which has been campaigning since 1998 against the trade in diamonds from conflict zones.
- “The industry claims the problem of conflict diamonds has been solved but they’ve only just launched a full educational program, said Gilfillan. "The Blood Diamond is due to be launched around the end of this year, and it’s very hard to avoid the conclusion that the industry is moving now to try and head off bad publicity before the film is launched.”
- At the same time the New York Post wrote, “The diamond industry is spending big bucks to buff its image and not be pinned by negative publicity tied to the Leo DiCaprio flick The Blood Diamond."
- In a June 6, 2006 article the Post noted, “The diamond business, concerned that an upcoming movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio will spark consumer backlash over stones mined in war-torn African nations, is launching a campaign to reassure shoppers that they aren't buying conflict diamonds. In addition to a print ad campaign to help jewelers answer questions, as many as 20,000 retailers will also get a confidence kit that explains the certification system.”
- The diamond industry's campaign was met with criticism yesterday from at least one watchdog group.
- A spokeswoman for Warner Bros. declined to comment on the film.
THE DIAMOND INDUSTRY|
“The diamond industry is vital to the Southern African economy.” - Nelson Mandela
- The above is the statement that De Beers would like to have added to the end title of the film; however, the statement was made in 1999 in support of initiatives to bring an end to the trade in conflict diamonds.
- It is not clear if Mandela would be amenable to this being used at the present time in the context of a film inspired by a fictionalized story.
THE FILM INDUSTRY|
- On the other hand, the film industry has many who endorse its endeavors for quite a number of reasons.
“Throughout the world, millions of people are living in refugee camps, having fled violent conflicts and upheaval in their home countries. Traditional aid organizations respond to their immediate physical needs for food, shelter and medical care, but other critical needs are left unattended. The trauma of their past experiences and the uncertainty of their future well-being exact an enormous physical and psychological toll....To use the power of film to promote health, strengthen communities, and enrich the lives of the world's vulnerable and uprooted.” www.filmaid.org|
"Films are a powerful and evocative tool for fostering understanding and tolerance in the world." - Nelson Mandela, Nobel Laureate for Peace
The ability of films to communicate crucial information, about land mines and other hazards, can also save lives…a community spirit flourishes where thousands assemble to watch a film." - Kofi Annan, Secretary-General, United Nations
Films have become as essential as water and food" - Kofi Mable, Head of Kakuma sub-Office, UNHCR
Education helps preserve a reassuring stability in the lives of these children…And film can help foster one of childhood's most precious assets - imagination." - Carol Bellamy, Executive Director, UNICEF
"For those who have suffered human catastrophe and lost almost everything, the capacity to imagine a better future is essential for mental well-being. Movies can provide a way to escape a narrow, painful daily existence." - Sarah Sheldon, Doctors of the World
Creating a polished gem from a rough crystal involves a number of steps in the "manufacturing" process, including cleaving, bruting, and polishing on facets, to name a few.
- Rough diamonds are sorted into thousands of categories.
- Sizes, qualities, colors, shapes, maccles, cleavage, naats, makeables, sawables, fancies, etc.
- At least 1/2 the weight of the rough is lost in the polishing process.
- The shape of the rough determines the shape of the polished.
- Only a diamond can cut another diamond.
- Facets are polished on using diamond dust and oil.
- Diamonds are sawn against the grain.
- Sometimes, a window is cut into a rough diamond to decide how it should be cut.
Only 20% of diamonds mined are suitable for polishing, and about 80% are industrial quality.
- Industrials are used in the medical field and space programs.
“Mandela to defend De Beers from bad Blood" was the headline in an article published earlier in the week.
HOLLYWOOD BYTES by ELIZABETH SNEAD|
|June 20, 2006 - This just in: Elizabeth Snead - The Envelope - The release date for Warner Bros.' controversial new movie, "The Blood Diamond" - the film that has the international diamond corporation De Beers so nervous they've already enlisted Nelson Mandela to defend their industry - has been changed from Jan 2007 to December 15, 2006. Coincidentally, just in time for that big diamond Christmas shopping season!
“The international diamond industry must be getting pretty nervous about The Blood Diamond,” wrote Elizabeth Snead in an introductory article about the film in the prestigious LA Times newspaper.
Her focus was on the publicist who would be promoting diamonds not the film industry. “Word is that Sitrick and Company, Tinseltown’s top spinmeisters, have been hired by De Beers to deflect the negative image of their industry portrayed in the upcoming film,” she commented. And then went on to speak about Nelson Mandela, “So guess who Sitrick plans to trot out to help stop the bad bling publicity?”
Quoting a “smiling inside source” as revealing the following, “Mandela is going to say that all that stuff seen in the film is in the past, that there are no more conflict diamonds in circulation, and that the diamond industry is economically good for South Africa,” she explained the importance of the film.
• But “Blood Diamond” will be one of those “important issue" awards season frontrunners.
• Diamonds used to fund wars and fuel massive slaughters is pretty nasty stuff.
• Imagine what this negative buzz could do to the bling quotient on the 2007 awards season red carpets.
The following statement should give the diamond manufacturers in all of the cutting centers (and their clients) something to think about.
“The Academy/Globe consideration screenings in November may start the bad press that could hurt December diamond sales, not to mention Valentine's Day,” Snead warned.
And, as if enough wasn’t enough, she added, “As far back as September 2005, De Beers’ honcho Jonathan Oppenheimer warned an industry convention that the movie was likely to attract a huge audience.”
She succinctly wrapped it all up by quoting Oppenheimer who said, "Can you imagine its impact on the Christmas-buying audience in America?"
PROMISES and DREAMS
Djimon Hounsou promised that he would try to visit the Children’s Village in Mozambique before he left the country.
He kept his promise to the children and an article appeared on the Village’s website: www.sos-usa.org.
26/05/2006 - SOS Children's Village Maputo in Mozambique was proud to have been visited recently by Djimon Hounsou, who was in Maputo filming for his next movie The Blood Diamond
Children at SOS Children's Village Maputo “turned on the charm” last week when Djimon Hounsou visited the village. The youngsters, some of whom have by now claimed the title of 'actor', first met the Hollywood star on set filming for a movie called The Blood Diamond.
As extras on the set, the children had met Djimon and were keen to show their new friend where they lived. Djimon's strikingly tall stature was described as “big - REALLY big” by one of the excited children who thronged around Djimon during his visit to the village.
Visiting one of the family houses, the Hollywood star was touched by the commitment shown by co-workers and SOS Mothers. “I can't believe what I have seen here… this is fantastic for the children,“ said Djimon, who was already carrying one of the children around in his arms.
Playing with the children while walking around the village, it was easy to see the star's affinity with the children. There was much laughter and shouting as Djimon and some of the children acted out a few of the scenes that they had been shooting over the past month.
Accompanied by members of the film crew, Djimon Hounsou presented the village with various gifts, including plenty of toys for the children. Much to the children's delight, Djimon also distributed sweets.
Turning to the SOS Mothers who were watching this happy and relaxed scene, he said, “You are the Queen of Queens in Africa, my mothers. You are so important to these children.”
Born in Benin, Djimon immediately recognised the music of Salif Keita as music blared out signalling the start of an informal party. Joining in the dancing, Djimon and the crew members were clearly enjoying the company of the village families.
Writing in the village guest book, Djimon Hounsou enthused, “Thank you for helping the kids dream of a brighter future.”
Then, echoing the village child's description, he added, “Always dream BIG BIG.'”
Djimon Hounsou was scheduled to speak live/on-line from Mozambique sharing his experiences about how poverty and lack of access to education go hand-in-hand in Africa with students who would have the opportunity to ask him questions directly. The talk would be about his humanitarian work with Oxfam, and how that organization is making a difference. gl.wichita.edu/news/?item=96
PROMISES WITH STRINGS ATTACHED
A promise was made to Charl Beukes for the extras whom he recruited for the movie - negotiations continued while the cast and crew were in South Africa, but WB left South Africa without making contact so nothing was finalized. That’s not to say that it won’t be to the benefit of the children. It just may take longer than was originally hoped for. (I’ve been following the story about the kids since April. The following article was sent to me yesterday. It was published in the South African press on June 17, 2006.)
Witness - “Amputees not Ripped Off”
Kids in DiCaprio film aren't getting big money, but “union is wrong to say they're being exploited.”
Leonardo DiCaprio is among Hollywood's most highly paid actors and he takes pride in being seen as a fearless campaigner for the environment and human rights.
But his latest film, Blood Diamond, which uses amputee children as extras and is being shot on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast and in Mozambique, has raised the ire of a Cosatu-aligned trade union.
The film, being made by entertainment giant Warner Brothers, has recruited 27 children as extras and, while they are being paid a wage lower than the accepted industry minimum, the children are not being exploited, says the Amputee Club of South Africa.
At present there is no government-stipulated minimum wage for children hired to act in films. As a result, foreign film crews with multi-billion rand budgets can visit South Africa and hire local actors, especially children, for a pittance.
Warner Brothers are paying the amputee children between Rand 250 and Rand 500 per day as extras - starring alongside DiCaprio, the star of films such as Titanic and The Aviator who routinely earns Rand 100 million per film.
The film is set in war-ravaged Sierra Leone - where guerillas were known to mutilate child diamond miners to prevent them from working.
Mabutho Sithole, the chairman of Cosatu-affiliated trade union Performing Artists Workers' Equity (Pawe), however, said that his union will be requesting a meeting with the labour minister in order to regulate the wages paid to child actors. Union general-secretary Oupa Lebogo said the normal minimum rate paid to actors in movies is Rand 2,000 per day. If the company was only paying Rand 250 per day I would regard it as exploitation.
Amputee Club of South Africa
Kevin Hogg of the Amputee Club of South Africa said that although Warner Brothers is only paying between Rand 250 and Rand 500 per child per day, the deal between the film company and the children is a fair one. Hogg said the children, recruited from poor families by the Amputee Club, have been promised prosthetic limbs as part of the deal for starring in the film.
Mabutho Sithole is quoted as saying, “I will be watching with interest to see if this donation is made.”
These children are the poorest of the poor.
They have been very well looked after during the filming so far and they have three proper meals a day and all the other attention they need - something they were not used to. Kevin Hogg said, “The payment is just and the main motivation for getting the children involved was to get them artificial limbs.”
These are extremely expensive and, without Warner Brothers' donation, they would not be able to afford these as they can cost up to Rand 60,000.
The Importance of the Promise
Kevin Hogg said that so far one child (Simon) has already been given a prosthetic limb - but this was paid for with cash raised by the film crew, not from a Warner Brothers donation. [See home page article and photo - Simon being held by Djimon Hounsou.]
• You must remember these limbs are like shoes the child will eventually outgrow them and they are terribly expensive.
• As a result most of these children would never normally get prosthetic limbs until they are adults.
• This offer by Warner Brothers is of enormous benefit to these children.
It’s All A Matter of Timing
Without these children the film would not be viable.
Hogg said that thus far Warner Brothers has not made any donations toward the costs of the limbs, but the limbs are expected by the end of the year, timed in order to coincide with the premiere of Blood Diamond.
THE FILM IS ALL ABOUT PROMISES
All of the amputees were promised new limbs by the film-makers as part of the compensation for appearing in the film. Charl Beukes, "When we were negotiating the terms for the amputee extras before filming even began, I decided to also request that all amputees used on set would each receive new, lightweight limbs.”
In David Macgregor’s article, he said, "The money and the fact that they would be living on set would make a small difference, but new limbs would change their lives forever. Although we have not been given an answer yet, the request has been positively received and I really hope they get the new limbs."
Having worked hard to improve the plight of amputees for many years, Beukes, a retired businessman, decided to recruit the extras from the most desperate Transkei cases.
"I deal with lots of amputees, but these guys are like a personal project for me. All the amputees on set are amazing. They have the crudest prosthetics, but work so hard at trying to live normal and productive lives. It is inspiring to see the things the adults do to survive, and even the kids with no legs play football."
Beukes is helped in the Lusikisiki area by field worker Andrew Mgoma, 36, who lost an arm in an accident, and prays every day that Beukes's request will be given the green light.
Paid Rand 250 a day, given free accommodation at a nearby beach holiday resort and fed three solid meals a day, all the extras say working on the film has been the best experience of their lives.
"It is like a Christmas we never had," Fana Xabi, 34, said. "I can't wait to get new arms. Then, I will not have to use old wire to patch up the hooks," he chuckles, clutching Rand 500 in a claw.
Light Weight Prosthetics – A Promise for the Future
“We will also follow-up on the promise by Warner Brothers to give all the extras new limbs,” said Beukes. “It is not a problem if the money is only available at the end of the year.”
Beukes said it was heartbreaking to choose one person out of the 28 to be the first to get a new limb. "We could not help any of the double amputees as the amount of money raised was not enough. We barely had enough to buy Simon's leg."
Beaming when Beukes delivered the new limb at his school, Simon said he could now realize his dream of becoming a soccer star.
"This is the happiest day of my life. Now I can get rid of my crutches and learn to kick a ball properly," he said.
A Diamond in the Rough
After I read the first article in April, I contacted Charl Beukes in South Africa to learn more about the extras.
After that, I asked a few of my friends and colleagues at the Diamond Exchange in Ramat Gan, Israel, if they would support me in what I was doing and help out with keeping the promises made to the youngsters.
This developed very quickly into bringing in others from Antwerp, Mumbai, New York, Boston, Los Angeles, South Africa, and Thailand including jewelry designers and diamantaires; the CEO of one of the top gemological labs; a retired DTC executive whose wife has her own project in Bangladesh; sightholders; lawyers; a sustainable development consultant; journalists; and a diamond social entrepreneur who is planning a fair trade diamond project (mine-to-consumer) headquartered in Sierra Leone with a retired Boeing executive.
For more information: email@example.com
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Revised: 21 June 2006 0130 GMT