February 2003. Across six countries in southern Africa, nearly 20 million people suffer on the brink of severe famine. Malawi is the second most seriously affected country, following closely on the heels of Zimbabwe: 6 millions Malawians have nothing to eat, and 3.6 million survive by complete dependence on massive food aid distributed by the World Food Program of the United Nations.
And yet no one would imagine famine looking at the verdant hills, lush with flourishing corn fields and fruit-bearing trees. The question begs to be asked: How has a country of such fertility and apparent prosperity reached this dire stage? Is the rain deficit of the last two years the only explanation? What roles have politics and economics played?
Investigating the workings of the food crisis, this documentary unveils a dramatic forty-year history of heavy-handed paternalism and corruption. From the Malawi capital of Lilongwe to the tea plantations of the southern provinces, with important stops abroad in London, Johannesburg, and Washington, D.C., the film uncovers the interlinked root causes that led to the deaths of 30,000 to 40,000 people between February 2002 and February 2003. Powerful testimonies of leading authorities bring to light the political machinations that have allowed government leaders to enjoy luxurious finery while their people are reduced to mere survival on poisonous root vegetables.
Finally, while it continues to extend generous humanitarian aid to Malawi, the United States is hardly an innocent benefactor. In a self-serving gesture, the U.S. exports genetically modified grain to the poverty-stricken country.
Director: Eric Elléna
Producers: French Connection Films, TV10 Angers
Length: 53 minutes
Languages: English, French
Partners: The French Film Board (CNC), KTO, The European Commission, The World Food Programme, Care International, Action Against Hunger
Broadcasters: KTO, TV 10 Angers, Planète Future (France), Docu TVE (Spain), RTM (Morocco), Catalogue CFI (Africa), STV (Cameroon)