Filed under: Correspondence
I`m attaching both my first letter to Lindsay as well as the latest proposal to GOOD magazine which she asked me to write after our meeting last week. The recent Proposal I am sending in PDF form:
Subject: for Lindsay Utz / (Daniel Milder)
Date: October 1, 2007 3:57:12 AM GMT+02:00
Daniel Milder gave me your name and said that I should run a story idea by you.
I’m a filmmaker and theater artist from the States based in Europe over the past 7 years working with my company, Cabula6. We were recently asked to develop a new piece in Portugal focusing on Immigration. As I began to research the African migration to Portugal over the past decade an a half, I came across an extremely compelling story. Angola, just under the radar right now, is on the verge of becoming very big news around the world. China is positioned to be the economic powerhouse of this century, but the largely untold story of its global ascent is taking place right now in Africa. After decades of devastation wrought by civil wars, China is rebuilding the continent in hopes of a early grab at its potentially emense untapped oil reserves. The epicenter is Angola.
The Chinese are rebuilding the Benguela Railway that cuts through the belly of Angola. I will follow its tracks from Kuito in the center of the country to the old slave port of Benguela on the Atlantic ocean telling the stories of the people whose lives are rapidly or not so rapidly changing. Once the commercial life-line of Angola stretching 1334 km from the Congo to the Atlantic ocean, the railway was largely destroyed during the 26 year civil war – bombed, peppered with land mines, ravished and laid to waste. Now, as part of an investment deal securing oil rights and construction contracts in return for rebuilding the national infrastructure, Chinese companies have come in and the whole world is being transformed.
Parts of the country which have been cut off for years are starting to reconnect. Trade routes are beginning to reemerge. For the first time in decades there is the possibility of development and renewed life. The route from inland Angola to the coast has been central to the major economic stories of the past 500 years – from the slave trade, to the colonial copper and mineral trade, to the battles of the cold war and now to the ascendancy of China in the age of limited oil supplies.
All along the tracks are people whose lives and fates have been intimately intertwined with these global forces — from the Chinese construction workers, to the Angolans recovering from the ruinations of war to the HALO de-mining organizations clearing the way. And cutting through all of it are the once opulent trains, abandoned and bullet ridden from the war, finding their way in a remarkable reversal of fortune back onto center stage of world events.
For images and more information about the route I will take: http://www.cabula6.com/angolaINDEX.htm
Some of the possible stories along the way:
– Jose Pedrosa – Train inspector. He has worked on the railway since 1959. He has seen all the changes from the heyday of the late Portuguese empire to its decimation during the Civil War to its current rebirth.
– Tu Oingkui – The Chinese Project manager for the Sino Hydro corporation, a Shanghai based company given the contracts to rebuild the railroad as well as many construction projects along the way. The chinese workers are spending years of their lives sequestered away in construction compounds cut off from the rest of the Angolan populations.
– HALO Trust Workers – The de-mining organization has employed large numbers of de-miners to clear land mines along the railway. Their work is incredibly dangerous and seemingly interminable.
– The story of the Miss Landmine beauty pageant contestants along the Railway from the provinces of Bie, Huambo and Benguela. In May 2007, a Norwegian initiated project to bring attention to the devastating legacy of land mines throughout Angola, the Miss Landmine beauty pageant was launched. The project, featuring beauty contestants who have been disfigured by mines, will make it’s way to Angola in late 2007.
– Returning refugees – since the ceasefire agreement signed in 2002, nearly 4 million displaced persons are returning back to towns and villages that have been ravished by the 27 year war.
– The trains themselves and all the people who ride them or work on them.
thank you very much.
p.s. for more information about my work, please look at the Cabula6 website. As for samples of film work, please look at the Crime : Europa project at: http://cabula6.com/crimeINDEX.htm . These are a series of 6 films commissioned by the European Union in 2006 following the public reception of 6 local criminal cases around Europe. I would suggest looking at the Berlin and Italian films.
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