Unless your head has been buried in the sand, or with equanimity in the clouds, you’ll be familiar, even a little bit, with the somewhat recent growing Chinese presence in Africa, and all the complexities and criticisms that have accompanied that development; Some calling it neo-colonialism; others approaching it more from a strictly capitalist standpoint. And still there are other POVs.
It’s certainly what we could call a touchy, polarizing matter, and would seemingly make for engrossing documentary fodder.
When China met Africa is a film we profiled earlier this year, when it was to make its debut at the Full Frame Film Festival in April; directed by the same filmmakers who brought us the critically acclaimed Black Gold, an expose into the multi-billion global coffee industry, with Ethiopia at the center of it all, this time, the filmmakers focus their lenses on Zambia, as they investigate China’s foray into that African country, told through the lives of both the Chinese and the Zambians, as each side works to negotiate the turbulent paths of this rapidly expanding relationship.
The website for the film has a more detailed writeup:
A historic gathering of over 50 African heads of state in Beijing reverberates in Zambia where the lives of three characters unfold. Mr Liu is one of thousands of Chinese entrepreneurs who have settled across the continent in search of new opportunities. He has just bought his fourth farm and business is booming. In northern Zambia, Mr Li, a project manager for a multinational Chinese company is upgrading Zambia’s longest road. Pressure to complete the road on time intensifies when funds from the Zambian government start running out. Meanwhile Zambia’s Trade Minister is on route to China to secure millions of dollars of investment. Through the intimate portrayal of these characters, the expanding footprint of a rising global power is laid bare – pointing to a radically different future, not just for Africa, but also for the world.
My anticipation for the documentary sunk when I learned from those who have seen it that it’s not as thorough, in-depth and all-encompassing as I thought it to be, and that the African workers employed by these newly established Chinese enterprises do not feature prominently.
Regardless, as I’m of course interested in the subject matter, I’ll give this a look if I can get my hands on the film; and you can as well, because it’s now available for sale on DVD and VOD. The DVD sells for about $19; however, the VOD download is only available in the UK.
Although, the film continues to screen in theaters around the globe; in London, Lisbon, and Paris in the next week; Vancouver in November. None in the USA. But I’ll keep my antennae on alert.
The trailer follows below: