Under this ironic title, Simon Panay presents the reality of the Perma mine in Benin.
Benin is a region in the west of Africa which has one of the lowest GDP’s in the world. Most of the population subsist mainly from agriculture, especially cotton; the salaries are very low. However, Benin is a very rich area where you can find gold, oil, marble and limestone, but the exploitations made by foreign companies mean the profit from the mines doesn’t stay in the country.
For these reasons, many people leave the countryside, they sell and leave everything behind to join the work at the mines. According to the film, what you hear before going to the mines is mainly negative: a lot of people die there, it is very dangerous, and no one finds any gold. But once you are there, all you hear is positive: you work for yourself, you don’t have a boss, some people make millions, digging is easy, you don’t have any expenses, taxes, etc.
The director presents the reality in a very clear way, sometimes even subtly, and through his film we find out the conditions of the miners and the repercussions of working in the mine, like for example how children are living in this situation. The director focuses on the human dimension of this problem and not in just informing in a very deep and brave way. It is a very hard documentary film to make and to watch.
The only thing we can criticise about this great film is the optimistic end. The film criticises the reality at the mine, but at the end the director shows a very optimistic end, breaking with the general idea of the film, maybe because he didn’t want to make us suffer during the whole story.
In a very short film, he shows a very clear message.