Posted October 13, 2011 by Alex Moss Editor in B
 
 

Blood In The Mobile


Frank Poulsen has a problem. Namely that his much loved mobile may well contain ‘blood minerals.’ The minerals in question are used in everything from phones to PCs and have been one of the major sources of conflict in the Eastern Congo for the last ten years.

Frank Poulsen has a problem. Namely that his much loved
mobile may well contain ‘blood minerals.’ The minerals in question are used in
everything from phones to PCs and have been one of the major sources of
conflict in the Eastern Congo for the last ten years.

Blood in the Mobile is a documentary
that explores the concept of social responsibility by attempting to unravel the
links between multinational companies and some of the more unpalatable aspects
of world trade. Poulsen’s journey takes him from Nokia’s HQ to the very mines
where some of the minerals that fuel the world’s love affair with technology
are chiselled from the dry earth.

Poulsen focuses on Nokia, as the
world’s biggest mobile phone company but it’s not just the Finnish
multinational who may be buying tainted goods. The whole electronics industry
relies on the same minerals. The fact that none of them can say for certain if
they use blood minerals is worrying. Worrying because, as concerned consumers
we all try to do our bit. We buy free trade and free range. We pay a little
extra at the tills in the hope that some of the money gets to the people who
need it. We expect the same from companies whose products we purchase.
Poulsen’s tenacious reporting is, therefore, sure to make ethical shoppers
think twice about who they buy from. Unfortunately Blood in the Mobile is a
flawed work.

There’s no doubt that Frank
Poulsen is a man with massive cajones. You have to admire a guy who heads off
into one of the world’s most chaotic war zones with nothing more than a few
flimsy paper permits for protection. He’s also an optimist who believes that
legislation is the key to ending conflict in the Congo. Sadly, it is hard to
believe that legislation will do anything other than assuage
consumer guilt because what emerges as we watch isn’t the story that Poulsen
set out to tell.

Since 1998, around 5.4 million
people have died in the Congo. It’s a region where atrocities are an everyday
occurrence. In 2003, a representative of Mbuti pygmies told the UN how his
people were hunted down and eaten like animals by the local militia. One
charity estimates that at least 200,000 women have been raped. However, the men
committing these appalling acts aren’t part of any organised war. They’re
bandits, moving from one area to another, looking for easy pickings. As Poulsen
shows us, it’s not the armed groups who work the mines. The work is done by
poor, ordinary people. Boys as young as 13, who risk their lives in holes in
the ground to feed their families, while the bandits take their cut and call it
‘taxation’. The Congo is a region where those with the guns make the rules.
It’s a region dying while vultures scrabble over its corpse. The Government is
not in control. The UN Peace Keepers are not in control. And Poulsen’s real
story is not about blood minerals or corporate responsibility. It’s about the
madness which passes for ‘life’ in the Congo and the complete failure of the
international community to address the problem.


Alex Moss Editor

 
Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com