Destroying Africa, One Helping Hand at a Time
Sundance Channel is proud of our former Production Assistant and now accomplished filmmaker Landon Van Soest! Landon left us several years ago when he received a Fulbright Scholarship to Kenya. While living in Kenya and in the ensuing few years, Landon and his filmmaking partner Jeremy Levine made a stunningly beautiful and politically powerful film, GOOD FORTUNE. Landon and Jeremy followed several people whose lives were gravely changed by two “poverty alleviation” projects funded by the UN and an American philanthropist.
GOOD FORTUNE takes aim at the arrogance and aloofness of western aid agencies and philanthropies who “help” those less fortunate. It doesn’t condemn them outright, but rather focuses on the people who are not consulted, but whose lives are adversely affected by these grand schemes to “end poverty.”
The film follows a farmer named Jackson, who does not consider himself poor, or in need of charity. Unfortunately, his plans to improve his farm and livelihood are being threatened by an American investor who believes a giant rice factory will create jobs and alleviate poverty in the rejoin. Silva is another unfortunate individual whose home is being destroyed by the UN as part of a “slum upgrading project.” The film is not intended as an out-and-out condemnation of western efforts to help those less fortunate, but rather sharpens the focus back onto the real affects of these grand projects funded by the Global North that rarely provides a voice, or a vote for the local people most affected.
Perhaps the statement that best captures the perspective of the film is also one of the most moving. Jackson, sitting by his land which is slowly flooding as a result of the rice factory and accompanying hydro-electric plant, states emphatically:
“I am not poor. I have a resource that I can exploit and maybe make me become rich. And that resource is being taken away by a developer… and he wants to make me poor. But right now, I am not poor.”
Check out the trailer here: