Jun 24, 2009

Human Rights Watch Interview: Landon Van Soest and Jeremy Levine, Good Fortune

An incendiary look at the difficulties that foreign aid has unintentionally exacerbated in some Africa's most impoverished regions, Landon Van Soest and Jeremy Levine's Good Fortune, which screens tonight at Lincoln Center as part of the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival, traces the effects of a UN sponsored initiative to renovate one of the world's largest slums, Nairobi's Kibera. As this fascinating and infuriating doc illustrates, Kenyans in both the slums of Nairobi and the wet farmlands of the countries Western provinces are struggling with well meaning but poorly conceived and paternalist encroachment from the west. The film intercuts the struggle of one Kibera based midwife to keep her business afloat amidst the slum's infrastructural changes with that of a family farm that is threatened by a multi-national's plan to build a mechanized rice farm, one which could conceivably produce enough rice to help alleviate hunger in that part of the country, but not without flooding the lands of nearby independent growers.

Good Fortune, which premiered at SilverDocs last month, will screen at Walter Reade at 6:30. I caught up with Van Soest and Levine to talk about their film for Cinema Echo Chamber's first ever podcast, available at the title link above.