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For over 40 years, a global charity industry has been feeding western media with stereotyped images of poverty, war and suffering from the African continent.
What are the results?
Blackwash is a contemplative visual journey with provocative commentary exploring the side-effects of philanthropy.
Let go of poor Africa. Still today, the images and narratives of Africa resonating in western mainstream thought allude to an eternally poverty stricken people helpless in the economical, ecological and political turmoil of their own making.
While purporting to capture these stories to spark change for a people in need, this over-exposition has curated lucrative stereotypes in developed countries for companies in the charity sector. Blackwash is feature length documentary de-constructing this imagery, mixing contemplative cinematography, provocative social commentary and stylish contemporary film making.
Co-directors Keren Chernizon and Daniel Siqueira curate a collage of sights, sound and voices from cocoa farmers, fishermen, artists, athletes, activists and policy researchers across West Africa, contrasting western projections against the everyday diversity of it's citizens.
Still today, the images and narratives of Africa that emerge and resonate in mainstream western thought allude to an eternally poverty stricken people helpless in the economical, ecological and political turmoil of their own making.
Drowned under the stereotyped pictures of misery are whole different sides to this story, "Blackwash" brings to the surface the relationship between the frequent media offensive portraying Africa negatively, the social capital this image fosters for people in developed countries involved with saving Africa and their role in feeding a multinational billion dollar charity industry.
Beyond it's role of providing a wealth of raw materials, Africa is the prime exporter of "feel good" stories marketed to wealthy donors looking to make the world a better place, indulging the participants with a heroic consumption story where deaths can be prevented and political conflict avoided with the swipe of a credit card.
Bono, Rihana and Angelina Jolie speak to us on our duty to help. The entertainment industry's love affair with philanthropy is part of an insidious marketing strategy used by celebrities and corporations to whitewash lavishness necessary for the successes of their brands, as beneficial to the people most at risk of exploitation by the irrational overconsumption their brands inspire and reinforce.
While not pretending to know the answers to fix this complex relationship, the film attempts to shed a light at the connections between the cultural forces feeding our misguided narratives of our own benevolence, how they affect foreign policy, facilitate the spread of extractive industries simultaneously with charity organizations marketing tragedy, perpetuating distortions and exaggerations about an entire continent.
An hypnotic visual journey through vast landscapes of salt lagoons, beaches and forests intertwined with the routine of cocoa farmers, fishermen and artists juxtaposed against adopted values of consumerism, indulgence and celebrity extravagance of a culture in pursuit western style modernization.
Keren Chernizon - director & cinematographer
Starting as a photojournalist for several media agencies in São Paulo, Keren undertook a masters in photography with a focus on visual anthropology researching human rights violations, police brutality and social rejection of homeless populations of drug addicts in the streets of the city.
Later she covered illegal policies of European countries in the disposal of electronic waste to Ghana, leading to her most recent project critiquing the charity industry overuse of tragedy imagery.
Keren has also created short dance films, collaborated on multiple dance performances with video projection and has directed music videos by international artists.
Daniel Siqueira - director & editor
Upon moving to Belin, he engaged with an umbrella policy organization researching the lives of sex-workers in nine E.U. countries, creating a series of interviews to strengthen the organization's public reach.
Daniel also specializes in drone aerial cinematography and is a touring experimental audiovisual performer.