On the trawler The Spirit of Namibia, moored off the coast of Namibia, diamond mining goes on around the clock. The supply of the coveted little diamonds on the ocean floor seems endless, but their extraction is muddied by politics, and fraught with racial tension.
Directors Adi Barash and Ruthie Shatz received permission to film everyday life on the Spirit of Namibia from diamond exporter De Beers, but the result - which shows fraying tempers, racist attitudes, a deteriorating vessel and front office indifference - hardly flatters the company. "They make us work as slaves in our own country," one of the Namibian workers says, which the film demonstrates to the fullest by showing the appalling working conditions in the lower depths of the ship. "I have never been down there," states one of the South African superiors.
The social matrix is a revealing microcosm: white South Africans spouting racist theories and bad jokes, Cubans who write poetry and speak of love, an Israeli security manager who makes himself the enemy, and Namibian deck hands who find themselves colonized off the coast of their own country.
Unobtrusively and without commentary, DIAMONDS AND RUST takes us into the daily life of an international crew working in the service of a faceless mining conglomerate that controls not only the ship but the surrounding waters as well. As they battle with the failing mechanisms of the rusty old ship, the men are drawn into contemplation of their situation and its dubious rewards.
"Fascinating! Compelling.... for anyone who wants movies to mean something. Directors Barash and Shatz do a brilliant job!" - Daily News
2001 International SCAM Prize, Cinema du Reel Film Festival (Paris)
2001 Golden Gate Award, San Francisco International Film Festival
2001 AmsterdamInternational Documentary Festival
2001 DoubleTake Documentary Film Festival
2001 DocAviv Documentary Film Festival (Israel)
2001 United Nations Association Film Festival (Stanford)
2002 African Literature Association Conference Film Festival
"Superior! An insightful documentary." - Time Out New York
"A stark, vérité look at 90 long days aboard a gem-mining trawler in southern African waters. A fascinating socio-anthro slice [and] expertly edited chronicle." - Variety
"Fascinating and powerful... a classic inside, vérité look at the way we have divided the world. [The] filmmakers brilliantly succeed in making the characters come across as human beings." - DOX Magazine
"One of the year's must see films! An engrossing and brilliantly insightful production.... Excellent." - Film Threat