The Shadow of Gold
An unflinching look at how the world's favorite heavy metal is extracted from the earth.
Directed by Denis Delestrac, Robert Lang, Sally Blake
Produced by Robert Lang, Sally Blake
Writers: Allen Booth, Denis Delestrac
Editors: Franck Nakache, Sarah Bachinski, James Blokland
Music: Eric Cadesky, Nick Dyer
Cinematographers: Mark Caswell, Russel Gienapp, German Gutierrez, Josh Lee
Produced by Kensington Communications, Inc., Films à Cinq and CAPA Presse
[Note: Community screenings of THE SHADOW OF GOLD can be booked at Bullfrog Communities.]
"A must-see for anyone teaching about environmental justice." Ruth Goldstein, Asst Prof, Gender & Women's Studies, UW Madison
THE SHADOW OF GOLD is a global investigation of how the world's favorite heavy metal is extracted from the earth. The film explores both sides of the industry: the big-time mining companies that dig deep and lop off mountaintops to extract gold from low-grade ore, and the small-time miners—an estimated 20 million people in the world's poorest nations—who extract gold by hand, often producing just enough to survive.
From communities threatened by proposed mining projects in the U.S. and Canada to small-time and artisanal miners risking their health—and their lives—in countries like Congo, Peru and China, THE SHADOW OF GOLD leads viewers from these flashpoints of extraction through loosely regulated supply networks to the very top of the global supply chain, where conflict gold reaches consumers who are unaware of the origins of this coveted commodity.
Finally the film engages with engineers, scientists, and Fair Trade advocates who are working with miners to tackle gold's worst environmental and social problems.
Grade Level: 10 - 12, College, Adults
US Release Date: 2021
Copyright Date: 2019
DVD ISBN: 1-948745-67-4
"The Shadow of Gold offers an important overview of what we are buying - or buying into - when we invest in gold bars or purchase gold jewelry. The gold trade is breathtaking in its exploitation of workers, indigenous populations, and the environment. This film can be used as an introduction to the economic, social, political, and environmental dimensions of the gold trade and is well suited for viewing and discussing in the classroom or in the community."
Linda Forst, Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health, University of Illinois-Chicago
"Shadow of Gold is a reminder that we are going to greater lengths - with more ecological and human collateral - to extract smaller amounts of gold. As an educator, I look for films like this one to convey complex, systematic problems through tangible stories of impacted communities. It's an informative look at the global network of drivers behind the large-and small-scale gold mining industries."
Mozhgon Rajaee, Assistant Professor of Public Health, Oakland University
"The Shadow of Gold tells very important stories about how we are all globally connected to gold, including the conflict and pollution that mining companies don't like to talk about."
Nuskmata Mack, Executive Director of the Moccasin Footprint Society; Past Coordinator, First Nations Women Advocating Responsible Mining
"The Shadow of Gold is a very important film that should be seen broadly to help spur urgent debate about how consumers, legislators and communities can hold the gold industry to account."
David Suzuki, award-winning scientist, environmentalist and broadcaster
"This is a stunning yet shocking depiction of the devastating environmental, economic and social consequences of industrial and small-scale artisanal gold mining around the world. In an optimistic twist, the film moves beyond these problems offering real world solutions. I will use this film in my sustainability courses, and recommend it for educators and activists who teach or work at the intersection of environment and social justice and who desire a global perspective."
Dr. Richard Niesenbaum, Director of Sustainability Studies, Muhlenberg College, Author, Sustainable Solutions: Problem Solving for Current and Future Generations
"Excellent film. The Shadow of Gold is a comprehensive, global examination of gold throughout its supply chain that balances both environmental and business oriented perspectives, while simultaneously not shying away from the severe social and ecological impacts of contemporary mining. I highly recommend this film for both educational and community organizing purposes."
Jerry Jacka, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Colorado-Boulder, Author, Alchemy in the Rain Forest: Politics, Ecology, and Resilience in a New Guinea Mining Area
"An ambitious exploration of a metal that still fascinates the world."
Thomas Walkom, Toronto Star
"By shining a light on the possibilities for more sustainable practices, the film encourages viewers to strive to protect the purity of our environment, and, finally, to re-think the sort of luxury that comes in gold."
Maria Paula Serrano, Vancouver Weekly
"if you're someone who waltzes into the jewelry store to figure out how to add some bling to your life, the new documentary The Shadow of Gold has a message for you - stop...The human stories resonate...Where big business thrives, nothing else does."
Mark Hanson, In the Seats
"A comprehensive look at the secretive global gold mining industry and the people who work in it and seek to change it."
Peter Robb, Artsfile
"The film is able to make the audience reflect on how this commodity, so much present in our lives, has a not-so-shining side indeed."
Sergio Martinez, Montreal Times
"The Shadow of Gold criss-crosses the planet to shed light on the shiny substance."
Chris Knight, National Post
"This film is a good reminder what the jeweler of the future should do and also a reference to educate our clients to ask for better solutions."
Olga Leclair, Jeweler, LOFT.bijoux
"This documentary is a great first step for consumers to make in educating themselves on the challenges of the gold supply chain."
Kesha Frank, Fair Trade Jewellery Co.
"As a jeweler, the question 'Where does the gold I am using come from?' is always lurking in the shadows of my mind. This documentary gives all of the unsettling answers about the mining industry you would prefer not to hear. But it also lets you know that there are organizations that are working to further consciousness and implement standards and rules to change things for the better."
Annegret Morf, Goldsmith, Serafino
"The Shadow of Gold expertly documents environmental and human health problems with both large-scale gold mining using cyanide leaching and small-scale gold mining dependent on mercury use. As the documentary weaves together personal experiences from all over the world, it pushes viewers to consider the real cost of gold and if 'clean' gold extraction is ever possible."
Henrik Selin, Associate Professor of International Relations, Boston University, Author, Mercury Stories: Understanding Sustainability through a Volatile Element
"This film is a must-see for anyone teaching about environmental justice. The important questions about the gold supply chain and the interconnected human-environmental consequences are rendered in heart-breaking detail."
Ruth Goldstein, Assistant Professor, Gender and Women's Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Author, Life in Traffic: Women, Plants, and Gold Along the Interoceanic Highway (forthcoming)
DVD includes English SDH captions for the deaf and hard-of hearing, and scene selection.
Excellent 36-page Educator's Guide in English. The guide includes suggested clips from the film, assignments and essay questions, and links to online resources.
Also available in French
Awards and Festivals
Colorado Environmental Film Festival
BNP Paribas Green Film Festival
Taos Environmental Film Festival
Labor and Work Issues
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"Recommended...Its personal stories are heart-wrenching, demonstrating dire risks of injury, death and disease in small and large scale operations...The film builds feelings of desperation, sorrow, and outrage. Moreover, it reinforces the responsibilities of consumers, among others, to conscientiously ask questions about how one's gold is obtained."
Michael J. Coffta, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, Educational Media Reviews Online
"As many in the world are now learning, there is more that goes into stocking products on the shelves than just what is seen. There is an entire supply chain that moves a product from raw materials to final goods...The Shadow of Gold is able to tell a compelling story...It offers solutions to the problems it identifies by way of new, less impactful mining methods that do not use toxic chemicals and solutions as well as to the labor issue of ensuring that workers are paid a living wage...It is recommended for any academic film collection focused on environmental studies and natural resources management but also collections on consumerism, supply chain management, and labor relations. Recommended."
Michael LaMagna, Video Librarian