The documentary “Bling: A Planet Rock” reveals effects of diamond production in Sierra Leone.
St. John’s Francophone Club hosted a presentation of the film on Wednesday, April 9, in the Library Honors Commons.
The documentary follows hip-hop artists, including Paul Wall, Raekwon of the Wu-Tang Clan, and Tego Calderón, as they learned the history of diamond production, how diamonds have fueled war within the country, and how they have impacted the lives of those living in Sierra Leone.
According to an article written by Melanie Cornish in 2005 for hip-hop news Web site nobodysmiling.com, the documentary “gives you as real an understanding of where the diamonds that adorn arms, fingers, necks, teeth and wrists really come from and it certainly doesnt resemble 47th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues.”
French Professor Dr. Eric Touya said, “This event is related to what we do in the classroom.” He added, “We are not aware that much of what we consume comes from poor countries.”
The film primarily focused on revealing the struggles and hardships faced by the people of Sierra Leone, where there was a civil war going on from 1991-2002. But, the movie also portrayed a greater learning experience for the artists as they visited diamond mines, amputee and refugee camps, and the children and victims of war.
“It’s important that we recognize the other person’s reality and experience,” Touya said. “The movie shows the difference between [the] rich and poor.”
Dr. Zoe Petropoulou, the French Coordinator for the St. John’s Department of Language and Literature, shared similar thoughts on the film’s subject matter.
“[Bling] is a very important movie for students to learn about the globalized world,” she said.
“Students must be educated citizens of the world in order to respect and understand others.”
The President of the Francophone Club, Frances Beaubrun, said the movie made her reflect on her own previous views of the raw material.
“The movie made me feel some sort of guilt because ever since I was a little girl, I always dreamed of having diamond earrings and a big fat diamond ring when I got older,” Beaubrun said.
“But now I know what people go through for those diamonds.” Beauburn also commented about the civil war in Sierra Leone.
“The war started over there because the world showed Sierra Leone that a rock was more valuable than human life,” she said.
“If we come to realize that life is valuable, maybe we can change ourselves and be less materialistic.”