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Niger Delta Rebels Fighting Government Oppression In Oil-Rich Nigeria Chronicled in New Doc

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by Tambay A. Obenson
September 18, 2012 4:12 PM
3 Comments
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World premiered in May at IFC Center, in its Stranger Than Fiction program; Will be available for digital download on October 16 to rent or own, in North America, courtesy of Cinedigm Entertainment Group.

Details in press release immediately follow; trailer for the film below; and for more information on Delta Boys, visit http://storytellerinc.com/deltaboys/.

New York, New York Sept. 18, 2012 – DELTA BOYSaward-winning American filmmaker Andrew Berends’ harrowing account of exploitation and militancy in the oil-rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria, where he was arrested while filming, falsely accused of espionage and expelled from the country, will be available on October 16 for digital download to rent or own. DELTA BOYS, which made its World Premiere in May at IFC Center’s “Stranger Than Fiction” film program in New York, is being made available in North America by Cinedigm Entertainment Group, a division of Cinedigm Digital Cinema Corp., and through the Sundance Institute Artist Services program.

DELTA BOYS received funding and support from the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Fund, The Gucci Tribeca Documentary Film Fund and Cinereach. Berends also used a Kickstarter campaign through the Sundance Institute Artist Services program to offset post-production costs for the film. DVDs of DELTA BOYS are also currently available for purchase on Amazon.com at http://amzn.to/UhfU3s.

In DELTA BOYS, Berends crosses the lines of Nigeria’s oil conflict to bear witness to the lives of the militants engaged in the struggle, and the civilians caught in the crossfire. With breathtaking cinematography, DELTA BOYS offers a never-before-seen glimpse of life in the volatile Niger Delta. DELTA BOYS explores the lives of militant “Godfather” Ateke Tom who rules over his rebel camp with an iron fist, and Chima, a 21-year-old who left his home to join the fight. The film also shows life in a tiny fishing village where Mama, a 22-year-old, struggles to give birth amidst the conflict with no access to modern medical care. Their personal stories reflect a broad global struggle between entrenched power and corporate interest and an underserved population. Despite the region’s massive oil wealth, the inhabitants of the Niger Delta live in poverty. Ateke’s militants have called for greater distribution of wealth and jobs. When their requests have been ignored, they’ve attacked oil-pipelines, kidnapped foreigners, and made the entire delta a no-go zone. But many feel that while the Niger Delta cause is just, the militants’ motives are not so pure.

While other journalists had visited Ateke Tom’s camp before, Berends was the first to have unprecedented access by living extensively amongst the rebels and sharing the same conditions, knowing he might put himself in harm’s way.

“I had seen some footage of the Niger Delta militants, found it visually exciting and felt I could handle that level of risk, so I researched the story and realized it was very important,” Berends said. “It’s about the environment and the world’s unquenchable thirst for cheap oil.”

In 2008 while making DELTA BOYS, Berends, along with his Nigerian translator, was arrested and falsely accused of espionage while filming at the bustling Nembe waterside in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Berends was detained for 10 days and expelled from the country by the Nigerian government in a bid to suppress media coverage of the Niger Delta conflict.

“It is unacceptable for any nonfiction filmmaker or journalist to be treated in this manner. They must be able to return to their own country without fear of arrest or fear that their work will be seized, solely because they are investigating or chronicling subject matter that may be sensitive or controversial,” Berends said. “It is also important that translators and local journalists around the world know they can do their jobs without fear for their lives, their freedom and their families.”

Berends recently returned from South Sudan where he began filming a documentary film sponsored by Cinema for Peace foundation on the refugee crisis and conflict in Sudan’s border regions.

Berends received the International Documentary Association’s “Courage Under Fire” award for his film THE BLOOD OF MY BROTHER about an Iraqi family whose oldest son was killed by an American patrol. Also filmed in Iraq, WHEN ADNAN COMES HOME about a teenager who was badly burned in a fire while in boy’s prison in Baghdad. Was awarded Best Documentary at the 2007 Vail International Film Festival. Berends’ previous documentary film URK about Dutch fishermen on the perilous North Sea was nominated for the International Documentary Association – Pare Lorentz Award.

Berends’ most recent photographic work involved documenting six weeks in Haiti in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake for which he was featured in an episode of the Independent Film Channel’s “IFC Media Project.” Previous work includes projects in Haiti dealing with sexual violence toward girls; in Brazil ranging from the slums of Salvador and Rio de Janeiro to the timeless fishing techniques still practiced in remote villages in Bahia. In New York, he has worked to document the conditions of underprivileged Brooklyn youth in housing projects and on public assistance.

For more information on DELTA BOYS, visit http://storytellerinc.com/deltaboys/.

Check out the trailer below:

DELTA_BOYS-Movie_Trailer from Andrew Berends on Vimeo.

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3 Comments

  • Emil B. Garuba | September 20, 2012 3:21 AMReply

    History is written (or unwritten) by the victors. The sad fact is that most non-White filmmakers simply don't have the resources, the ambition, or even the balls to venture into these volatile regions and tell these types of stories. But does that diminish the message of the film? I think not. Who cares who the filmmaker is? The message of the film is what's important I think:)

  • APB | September 18, 2012 5:41 PMReply

    I hate it when whites do these types of docs because it's not the story they're saying they're telling but the bragging of being able to go to hostile environments created by them.

  • urbanauteur | September 18, 2012 7:35 PM

    EXACTLY!... a loooong line of Pax Amerikana...walter rodney,maurice bishop,amacar cabral,jomo kenyeta,jamal nasser,patrice lumumba,uncle zep,robert sobukwe,augusto neto,samara michel,kwade nkrumah,steven biko,nelson & winnie mandela etc...

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