director’s statement by david masterwille
The idea for a narrative film on illegal mining and the massive environmental destruction they leave behind came about during research for my first feature documentary film GOLD IS HERE. In much of 2012 and 2013, there were frequent incidents of deadly mine pit collapses at the many illegal mine sites in Ghana’s gold belt. These mine accidents would result in casualty numbers ranging from several deaths to dozens of deaths per accident. The usual discussions on the cities’ radios were filled with bastardization of the illegal mine laborers whose voices were always missing in the discourse. Suspicious of the popular narrative on radio, I set out to investigate the truth surrounding these theaters of poverty, ruination and death.
Illegal mining is a huge pan-African problem. Even though it is a source of livelihood for millions of Africans, it poses enormous threats to the environment and human lives. From Ghana to Nigeria, DRC to Tanzania, and Zambia to South Africa, the devastation caused by unregulated mining is massive. Water bodies are destroyed. Forests and farmlands lay in ruins. Families have lost loved ones in devastating illegal mine accidents. As a continent, we cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the crushing impact of unchecked mining, especially, in an age of rapidly deteriorating climate. To this end, A Dream To Die For will be more than a film. It will be a movement to save and restore devastated lands in countries all around the continent.
To be filmed in Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa with post-production also in South Africa, A Dream to Die For will be a thrilling musical drama which is upsetting in its vivid portrayal of the unprecedented assault on the environment. At the same time, it will be uplifting in its fantastical depiction of friendship built on beautiful rhythms and untainted desires. It will capture the inner longings of those who populate its world, their rebellion against the girds of poverty, and the drive by common people to stand up in defence of their precious natural heritage. After watching this film, I want the viewers to be unanimous in their verdict that this is, indeed, a film about beating extreme odds to save one’s society from avoidable destruction.
Producer’s statement by carol mayes basuru
When I first read A Dream To Die For, I was deeply moved by this story. David’s intense depiction of the people who engage in illegal gold mining in Ghana gives heart to their untold stories. Stories that I know first-hand.
Within my extended family, there are several members who engage in this work. My brother-in -law has mined for years and is in constant danger. One cousin just recently died in the mines. I know how unregulated small-scale mining leaves a disastrous toll on people’s lives. And on a larger scale, Ghana’s forest, farmlands, rivers and streams are being destroyed at an alarming rate.
I was also drawn to this project because of David’s approach to telling this story. Not only is it a tale that is socially and environmentally relevant, but he has written it as a dramatic musical, a tragic opera. The musical genre in particular, I believe, will touch a wide audience. The use of music will give another layer of emotion to the characters and plot.
A Dream To Die For is a story that needs to be understood, and told to the world.
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