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by Indiewire
April 13, 2013 12:23 PM
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Meet the 2013 Tribeca Filmmakers #24: Rachel Boynton Joins Disparate Worlds in 'Big Men'

"Big Men" director Rachel Boynton.
It took Rachel Boynton six years to make her film "Big Men," a movie she is proud to say draws parallels between radically different places and people. "It shows you what the Texan oil executive has in common with the Nigerian militant struggling to make a dollar. And in doing that, it’s saying something about what we all have in common." The film focuses on the 20% of oil that is imported from Africa and how that connects us and makes up dependent on one another.

What it's about:
A real-life Treasure of the Sierra Madre with oil companies, African governments, Wall Street financiers and gun-toting militants.

What else should audiences know?:  "Big Men" is a fast-paced tour through the high-powered world of African oil deals with crazy access to everyone. It gives you a ticket to places you’ll never get to otherwise, taking you into the room as company executives meet with Heads of State and into the jungle as militants blow up pipelines, causing worldwide oil prices to soar.  Two narratives are interwoven in the film. These two stories are happening in very different places (the Kosmos Energy story unfolds in Ghana and Texas and New York; the Nigeria story unravels in the swamps of the Niger Delta). In the cutting room, Seth Bomse (the editor) and I were constantly challenging ourselves to see connections between seemingly disparate worlds.

On the challenges: "Getting an oil company to let me film in an independent, unrestricted way was also a big challenge. Oil companies are not known for being open to independent documentarians who want to film their private conversations for several years. And when I started making Big Men, I knew no one in the oil business. But Kosmos Energy was special – it was privately financed by Blackstone Capital Partners and Warburg Pincus and the guys who ran it had an amazing track record of finding oil where others had failed. So they felt confident and proud of what they were doing. I think that’s why they were open to letting us tag along."

"Big Men"


What she hopes audiences will walk away with: "We all want to become bigger than we are, to make more money and to achieve greater renown. And everyone is concerned with looking after his own people – his own family, friends, tribe. company, shareholders. The major difference is in who each of us considers “his own” to be. For me, the safeguard against divisive self-interest lies not in denying that we’re all looking out for ourselves, but in recognizing and valuing what connects us. So I hope people come out of "Big Men" thinking about that too."

Films that inspired her:
"Darwin’s Nightmare (by Hubert Sauper) was on my mind all the time. Particularly how they managed to structure it, to peel back layers of the onion one at a time. I love the structure of that film."

Indiewire invited Tribeca Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they're doing next. We'll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2013 festival.




Keep checking HERE every day up to the launch of the festival on April 17 for the latest profiles.

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