WG Film Presents
A film by Joakim Demmer
The World Bank is on a mission to eradicate poverty and inject the most impoverished regions of the world with billions of our taxpayer dollars every year. At the same time millions of people are losing their land and livelihood in the very same areas. Is well-needed economic investment in the world's poorest countries only benefiting the already rich?
DEAD DONKEYS FEAR NO HYENAS is a documentary thriller investigating the murky concept of 'land grabbing' - a modern form of colonisation where foreign investors buy or lease large farmland areas in developing countries without benefiting the local population. The rush for the 'green gold' is on and the strongest are bulldozing their way to the finishing line!
Following in the footsteps of Ethiopian environmental journalist Argaw, we find that the promised prosperity and development is often a far cry from the harsh reality. Large-scale farms are swallowing up agricultural land from regions that are already on the brink of starvation and sending it all back to your local supermarket. Left behind are only local farmers who have been forced from the land they have been living on for generations.
The film investigates these complicated issues and their effect, using rural Ethiopia as a backdrop. Along the bumpy ride we meet different players on both sides of the fence and learn that things are rarely how they first appear. As the global community struggles to navigate the moral and financial implications of investment chains and well-meaning food aid, the Ethiopian people find themselves in a desperate struggle to keep their land, culture and lives.
What I saw during my travels in Ethiopia made it obvious how much the land investments actually have to do with our own lives.
The flowers for my mother come from horticulture-farms in Ethiopia, the fuel at the petrol station round the corner is provided by the key investor in Gambella, and now even my pension fund is investing in African land...
A global interplay of goods and capital that produces serious ethical pitfalls.
On one side, there are projects that, thanks to investments, actually do contribute to food security, development and empowerment. There are various people in the industry who appear sincere in their belief in a win-win-situation: in which investors get high revenues and Africans can prosper.
On the other hand, the image of “land grabbing” as a global trend with a devastating impact was confirmed.
In Ethiopia ten thousands of people are evicted by force from their lands because of foreign investors. To the farmers and their family this means not only the loss of their sole chance to feed their families but also an irreversible loss of culture and identity. As they said: Without our land we are nothing.
At the core of the film lies the question: what is the personal responsibility of the players in these developments, what is our own personal responsibility?
Joakim Demmer was born in 1965 and grew up in southern Sweden. After studying photography, he began working as a cameraman and film editor in Scandinavia. From 1995-2001 he studied directing at the German Academy of Film & Television (dffb) in Berlin. Since his graduation he has been working as a filmmaker and cinematographer in Germany, Sweden and Switzerland.