December 7, 2006
Director Zwick excavates the bloody price of ‘Diamonds’
(Page 2 - Previous Page)There are still problems. Amnesty International charged this year that $23 million worth of diamonds had been smuggled out of West Africa, especially from the politically unstable Ivory Coast through nearby Ghana. But the Kimberley Process at its November meeting moved to stop that.
Zwick hoped that "Blood Diamond" will educate consumers about all this, so they'll know to demand that the diamonds they buy in stores be certified "conflict-free." The Kimberley Process does not mandate that retailers provide customers with such warranty paperwork. Zwick is aiding Amnesty International and another human rights group, Global Witness, in publicizing the www.blooddiamondaction.org Web site. The council also has an informational Web site, www.diamondfacts.org.
Zwick wants consumers to learn to care.
"It's a very easy set of choices one can make," he said. "It's just about educating oneself and making responsible informed choices. The Kimberley Process can be strengthened through consumer pressure."
Glover said the World Diamond Council --which has financed a public relations campaign tied to the movie's release -- isn't worried that "Blood Diamond" will cause a drop in diamond sales. The retail side of the trade, from the polishing to the final sales, is a $65 billion annual worldwide business.
"Diamond jewelry sales have never been stronger," he said. "This will be the fourth consecutive year of growth. And if you take out 2001 -- and we all know what happened in 2001 -- there have been 11 years of growth. For a very long time, diamonds have been the perfect expression of emotion for men who have trouble saying what they feel."
Still, as the L.A. diamond merchant warily said: "Nobody needs a diamond. It's not a food."
Especially concerned is Partnership Africa Canada, a Kimberley Process supporter that in 2000 published a report, "The Heart of the Matter: Sierra Leone, Diamonds and Human Security," calling attention to the rebels' trade in "blood diamonds." It's worried the film may hurt the nation's recovery efforts if people stop buying diamonds from Sierra Leone.
"Some of these films create an image of ongoing horror and suggest that nothing has changed," said its executive director, Bernard Taylor, in a press release.
If all this sounds like a lot of politics for a Hollywood action film to be concerned about, that's the way Zwick likes it.
"As an audience member, I'm always more interested if there's meat on the bone," he said. "Our first obligation is to entertain, because people need that in life. But one way to get there is to engage people's conscience by helping them understand their connection to the greater world.
"If you're a 19-year-old, and you want to see this cool movie about this guy and helicopters and action and explosions, you're coming to a movie to have a 'movie experience,'" Zwick explained. "But if along the way you ask yourself questions about what it is to be a consumer and buy things and where it comes from, you'll have had a richer experience.
"Blood Diamond" opens in theaters on Dec. 8.
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