Another look behind the mining scenes

EditorsJul 02, 2014

Another look behind the mining scenes

The work of gemstone miners and traders and how they extract minerals from the source seems to be a popular theme for documentaries these days.

After taking a look at the Sharing the Rough project earlier this year, which follows the story of one gemstone from mine to market, I recently found out about another cool film along the same lines that just was released.

Filmmaker and director Philippe Brunot created Follow the Zebra, which focuses on the lives behind the scenes of gemstone mining and trading in Tanzania, following the miners who spend their lives uncovering rare stones in remote parts of the country.

(For those that may be unfamiliar, as I was, “zebra” is a slang word that refers to the veins in the rock that indicate a concentration of gemstones, according to the film.)

The film examines not only the hardships miners endure as they work--doing hard physical labor as they try to find gems and sometimes going several hundred meters underground to do so--but also a look at their hopes and dreams for the future.

It also features the Gemological Institute of America’s Vincent Pardieu, who was chosen by colleague Richard W. Hughes to lead the expedition to help him gather data for an upcoming book.

The film is Brunot’s directorial debut, created through his company, Philm 80 Productions.

Follow the Zebra premiered for broadcasters at the 2014 Toronto Hot Docs International Film Festival earlier this year. It also was honored at the 81st Gemstone Gathering at the GIA Laboratory in Bangkok in May.

Brunot said that they are definitely planning on a mass release, aiming for television first and then DVD and video-on-demand distribution. They also have begun screening the film in theaters. There are currently two upcoming screening events: in San Francisco on July 23, and in Franklin, N.C. on July 25.

He added that they are hoping to organize a screening in New York City soon, details of which have yet to be confirmed. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this comes to fruition; I’d love to get a chance to see it.

You can stay updated on the screenings and other news about Follow the Zebra’s distribution on its Facebook page.

In the meantime, check out the trailer below for a preview of the film.

Brecken Branstratoris the senior editor, gemstones at National Jeweler, covering sourcing, pricing and other developments in the colored stone sector.

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