It is seemingly just as easy for a diamond dealer from New York to exhibit at a show in Dubai, Hong Kong or Abu Dhabi as it is for him to spend a week at the Javits Center in New York City. The reverse is also true. Just take a look at the number of exhibitors from around the world who participate in the jewelry shows every year in Phoenix, Las Vegas and New York.|
|JCK Jewelry Trade Show - Las Vegas 2006 Victoria Gomelsky, writing for the International Herald Tribune, started off her article (Spreading the diamond wealth) by saying, “When Warner Brothers releases The Blood Diamond this autumn, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as a diamond smuggler in Sierra Leone - the West African nation torn asunder in the late 1990s by diamond-financed rebel armies - De Beers will be ready.”|
She described this as, “The mining house unveiled a public relations campaign in Las Vegas on Monday during the jewelry industry's largest buying fair to position the stones as a source of hope, not conflict.”
She wrote about Allan Mayer who was introduced to the audience of jewelers for the first time.
• "We want to tell the story of how important diamonds are to Africa," Allan Mayer, managing director of Sitrick & Co., a Los Angeles-based crisis management firm hired by De Beers, said at the conference. “For almost its entire 118-year history, De Beers has relied on Africa as a source of rough stones and on London as mission control. An unmistakable sign that this is no longer the case is the miner's decision to move its global sorting operation in 2008 from its current location on Charterhouse Street in London to a site under construction in Gaborone, capital of the largest diamond producer, Botswana.”
Mayer explained the upcoming move to Africa and the London mix in this way.
• The transfer to Africa of the so called London mix would end a system, in place since the days of the company's founder, Cecil Rhodes, that sees billions of dollars of raw diamonds exported from southern Africa every year to be cut, polished and set into jewelry elsewhere.
• And it underscores the continuing change in the global diamond industry toward shifting control of the fate of diamond resources to the countries that mine them.
CONSUMER CONFIDENCE - CAMPAIGN LAUNCH JCK LAS VEGAS 2006
I’ll leave it to Allan Mayer and his public relations firm to talk about the good diamonds do in Africa.
From what I’ve read, so far, he seems to know where and how he wants to spin it.
The Tribeca Film Festival is important to New York as is The Film Society of Lincoln Center's New York Film Festival. Reuter’s noted that “Sundance changed people's perspective on the profitability of independent films and kick started a slew of new festivals around the U.S.” Cannes is a film festival where jewelers and celebrities meet every year to promote their own self interests. www.filmfestivals.com
During the past few years, numerous films and documentaries have been made about western business abusing and/or exploiting underdeveloped countries; howecer, no film has had the impact of the Blood Diamond on its respective industry. No industry has turned inward and taken a good hard look at itself because of one of the other films - especially not before it was released. The majority of the other films did not achieve the desired effect “because nobody cared”.
The diamond industry is different, but it has turned this into an adversarial position - an either/or - between the film’s perspective and the industry’s perspective on the subject.
However, some of the films do have an extended life as they are shown at film festivals - on a variety of subjects - thereby initiating continued discussion; book clubs have evolved into film clubs (DVD, video, and rental film libraries); and some films have generated charitable trusts in the name of the film for selective causes.
“If the Blood Diamond film turns out to be as successful as it should be, given all the noise that the diamond industry is making, the film industry will continue trying to make the business world pay attention, hoping that other mega-industries will also respond, even a little bit like this. It will certainly keep the subject on the table”, noted a consultant in sustainable development, “The film industry will also be able to use it to get investments from outside sources,“ he added smiling at the thought.
Some of the more interesting films and documentaries that have tackled serious subjects include:
Lord of War
The Constant Gardener
Filming the Invisible
Invisible Children: The Rough Cut
The Global Night Commute
Invisible Children: The Final Cut
Stolen Childhoods – documentary (Uganda) - also online article with Ted Koppel
A Song for Sudan
A Cry For Madiom.
Hope Rising in Rwanda
Romeo Dallaire's Shake Hands With the Devil
Zulu Love Affair
CAUSES and CELEBRITIES - FILM and SPORTS
A number of movies have influenced some actors who have taken up causes in the countries where they were filming.
• The Constant Gardener Charitable Trust was formed while filming in Kenya. It is a sustainable trust with numerous projects – headed by Fiennes.
• Syriana - not set in Africa - but adds to the overall picture of big business (reference to arms trade for diamonds - with dramatic scene, etc.). The star, George Clooney, has since visited Sudan with his father.
• Brad Pitt, who lived in Namibia with Angelina Jolie and their children for a few months, has his own very visible Save the Children program.
• Leonardo Dicaprio – ecological foundation – new film/documentary planned that he is producing and a few online sites including: http://www.leonardodicaprio.org/kids/
• Djimon Hounsou is active with Oxfam. Last year, Djimon Hounsou took a fact-finding mission to Mali on behalf of Oxfam's Make Trade Fair Campaign; and, this year, he took time from his schedule on location in Maputo and visited the children at the Mozambique SOS Village.
• Locally, Isaiah Washington, Grey's Anatomy star, has donated his time for an auction held by the Jackie Robinson Foundation (lunch with the actor went for $4,550). Globally, he has traveled to Sierra Leone as part of a Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) mission to explore trade and investment opportunities with the U.S.A.
He has been quoted as saying, "I don't want to stop until a McDonald's is in Freetown (the capital of Sierra Leone). The one thing I know is that wherever a McDonald's is, no one is having a war," said Washington. Because a star like Isaiah Washington can help to promote a relatively unknown business location (like Sierra Leone), the 42-year old actor stayed in Africa after the trade mission to film a documentary for ABC television. The documentary follows Washington on his personal and political journeys into the past, present, and future of the people in his West African homeland.
• Baseball has recently been introduced to the SOS Village in Mozambique.
Edward Orrizzi writes, “Major League Baseball has been getting more and more involved as they see the good I am doing - my cellar (in Boston) is presently filled with baseball equipment donated by them, and I will soon be loading a container to send to Africa.“ www.baseballinafrica.org
He added, “Sport is a powerful and exciting way to develop youth potential and help strengthen future society. But we can’t focus on sport and social development in Africa without addressing the HIV/AIDS pandemic that is relentlessly eroding that future. Our project is also a job program, as hundreds/thousands of jobs are created. Right now we have a monthly payroll that includes 60 people. I can easily do so much more !!!”
Journalist, Tom Zoellner, has had a very successful book tour visiting cities across the USA including Seattle, Salt Lake City, Tempe (Arizona), and New York City. In an interview, Zoellner explained his concept, “To Americans, the diamond symbolizes many things, namely love, commitment and marriage. In other parts of the world, however, the diamond stands for conflict, irreparable damage to the Earth, and bloodshed.” He said that he traveled to 6 continents following the path of diamonds from rough to polished.
Speaking about the global nature of the trade, each chapter of “The Hearltess Stone” touches on specific aspects of the diamond business including mining diamonds in Angola, cutting and polishing in Surat, marketing in Japan, and sorting and dealing in Antwerp and London.
WORLD DIAMOND COUNCIL MEETING
If you take a look at what that Rory More O’Ferrall said during a meeting of the World Diamond Council, his reference is “to help the victims of the film” and “they are helping, not hurting, the people in the film.”
O’Ferrall even equates the actors to the victims (without having seen the film – or the photos that I have) because that is what people will see and the scenes with them are so powerful that it will be a lasting image that that moviegoers will take with them when they leave the theater.
The 50 words at the end of the film (that everybody seems to be so worried about) will be meaningless in comparison.
Reference – JCK magazine online article May 2006 - The movie was such a concern that Rory More O’Ferrall, De Beers’ Director of External Affairs, gave a presentation about it during the World Diamond Council meeting in Catania, Sicily.
O’Ferrall, who obtained an early copy of the script, said the story follows the travels of a pink diamond discovered by a Sierra Leone farmer enslaved by Revolutionary United Front rebels. DiCaprio plays a trader who works for “a certain sinister diamond monopoly based in Europe.” The diamond ends up in a store on London’s Bond Street, home, in real life, to the first De Beers store.
It’s likely the audience will leave the movie theater thinking the best way to help the victims of the film is to not buy diamonds, and this could have a negative impact on the Christmas season.”
The trade isn’t trying to stop the movie - O’Ferrall noted that could mean even more publicity. “We think it’s better to embrace this movie, to turn it to our advantage and to the advantage of Sierra Leone,” O’Ferrall said. “We need to let the audience know that, by buying diamonds, they are helping, not hurting, the people in the film.”
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Revised: 24 June 06 1836 GMT