Few can resist the rich and creamy sweetness of delectable chocolate. But the findings uncovered in Chocolate's Heart of Darkness are anything but sweet. The film shows the dire price that is often paid just so we can satisfy our indulgent palates.
The industry's survival relies on widespread deforestation and grueling child labor. Corporate spokespeople claim they are aware of these troubling practices and are working to put an end to them, but there is little evidence that any action has been implemented. The filmmakers make it their mission to take these corporations to task for their inaction.
Driving along the Ivory Coast - the region responsible for most of the production and export of cocoa - the filmmaking team encounter armed militias, a badly deteriorated forest reserve, and thousands of illegal cocoa plants. In one camp, a group of 40 immigrant men and children toil through the brush with machetes, engaging in a process that is both back breaking and risky. The children spray poisonous pesticides without wearing masks or any other protective gear.
The film details the process by which cocoa is procured from the plantations. We witness the conditions the workers are escaping, their desperation to make money and improve the lives of their families, and how the work force is recruited in secret and out of sight from legitimate law enforcement and human rights organizations.
Beyond documenting the environmental and human rights abuses, the filmmakers attempt to hold corporations accountable for their complicity. The industry has promised to cut down on the rampant illegalities that have marred the farming and production side of the equation for several decades. But when confronted with these ongoing atrocities, they plead ignorance. Cargill, the distributor of many chocolate products to companies like Nestle and Hershey, is one of the prominent corporations targeted in the film.
Amidst the tireless efforts of human rights and environmental activists, and the empty promises of industry leaders, the most urgent question remains unanswered: Why haven't things changed? The film exposes consequences that consumers would rarely consider as they purchase over seven million tons of chocolate in any given year.
Directed by: Paul Moreira