Here is how the film is sold in the AMFF program guide:
Written and Directed by Jeta Amata and starring Vivica Fox, Billy Zane and Mbong Amata, Black Gold tells the story of one local Niger Delta (Nigeria) community, led by an orphan, struggle against their own government and a multi-national oil corporation, who has plundered their land and destroyed the environment. A powerful story of greed, murder and corruption pitted against human and environmental justice.
Black Gold takes on the ambitious task of telling the often neglected story of the Niger River Delta Region in Nigeria, which has been having an Big Oil spill just about every single day, for decades. The movie centers around the exploits of Western Oil and although that is a real company, there is no indication in the movie or in any of the write-ups I have seen, that would suggest this story is true. However the film does stay very true to the issues at hand for the Niger Delta region and that is: Why haven't the people of the Delta been compensated for their spoiled lands and sea, diseased bodies and untimely deaths. And why is the Nigerian government so damn corrupt?
The film jumps forward in time to a wedding back here in the States where about a dozen Nigerian freedom fighters have taken the President of Western Oil and his guest hostage. Their demands are simple but not quite so simple: They want to free the Delta Region of Big Oil and free all political prisoners including a young woman, who is slated to be put to death for the murder of corrupt tribal elders. Much of the film is a flashback to the village in which both the hostage takers and the young female activist originated from. There we see all the all strife and corruption, which lead up to these men basically becoming rebels in their own country and international terrorists.
It's quite a compelling story, which does a good job of inspiring anger, shock and informing the viewer. If you are not familiar with the impact in which Big oil extraction is having on the Niger Delta region than this is the film to see. Plus, I really enjoyed seeing an Out of Africa film, which tells the story from the perspective of actual Africans instead of a white (or in some cases American Black) visitors to the foreign land.
However the film, for me, falls apart at the end with the Hollywood "All is well," or in this case, "Give Peace a Chance," ending, which to me is a cop out. Again, I'm not sure is this is a fictionalize story (I missed the talkback screening so I didn't get to ask the director any questions) but I felt that the Jeta Amata, writer/director, should have went for it instead of trying to wrap the story up into a neat and shallow package. In real life, the people of the Niger Delta still suffer immensely. They have not been compensated and Big Oil continues to act without impunity from a corrupt Nigerian government. Despite the tagline at the end, suggesting that we "Give Peace a Chance," there can no peace without justice. And by bailing on an more accurate picture of the current situation in Nigeria, Amata pretty much left the audience off the hook by not making them just as culpable to how our own inaction in the United States has contributed to the destruction of the region.
But I still recommend this film because it does do a great job of informing folks and should get folks thinking at least about other parts of the world, who too have been grossly exploited by Big Oil - Can you say Somalia pirates anyone?
Check out the Trailer below. I don't have any information about distribution but if you are on Facebook, you can probably get up-to-date information about future screenings by clicking here.