...Or when is a Documentary not a Documentary?
I have been busy picking on Oprah (see post about Oprah’s Charities), but I was even more shocked to read that the documentary titled Ithuteng – Never Stop Learning , which is being promoted by HBO, has just won numerous awards at 2006 Film festivals. There are interviews all over the Net, with the young American filmmakers, describing their experiences during filming, and the haunting stories that make up the ‘reality’of the lives of it’s characters. The New York Times screened the film and wrote “It’s a Film about Despair in South Africa, and a School that Offers Hope”.
It’s infuriating! The Star Online website flaunts photos of Hollywood’s elite, rubbing shoulders with the poor, victimized youth of Ithuteng, whom they have flown across, all expenses paid, for the numerous awards shows and press conferences!!! And all of this took place long after Carte Blanche exposed their stories as false, and showed footage of these youngsters admitting the whole thing was a scam to get money and recognition for themselves and the biggest criminal of all – Mama Jackey!!
I wrote to HBO, to inquire about their process of validating the supposedly factual documentaries they promote but not surprisingly, they ignored it. It seems Hollywood is craving an image of caring, of supporting those in need, of looking like the good guys – it’s become trendy to give back to Africa. Like the cosmetics campaigns where they promise to give a dollar from every tube of lipstick sold to stop AIDS in Africa. What a joke…
The thing is, that the makers of the Ithuteng Documentary are the sons of the Chairman of NBC, and whose mother is actress Susan St. James, (in other words, they’ve got a few connections), and promotions were not an issue. The topic of the documentary fit right into the current trends, and the subjects of the documentary were more than happy to market a good story and keep milking it, for a free trip to Hollywood, all sort of royalties and global recognition – despite the fact that back home the bubble had burst and they have admitted on camera that all the stories were lies. The sad truth is that Hollywood sells images and stories and the truth is absolutely irrelevant.