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Diamond Road

Examines every facet of the diamond trade from the prospectors to the miners, cutters, jewelers, smugglers and dealers, and advocates for fair trade.

A printer-friendly version of this page 99 minutes
Closed Captioned

Directed by Nisha Pahuja
Produced by Robert Lang
Editor: David Kazala
Director of Photography: Derek Rogers
Co-Producer: Cornelia Principe
Co-Director: Manfred Becker
Music Composer: Ken Myhr
Written by Nisha Pahuja and John Kramer
A Kensington Communications Production

"A most useful classroom tool to raise issues concerning socio-economic deprivation, poverty reduction, and other allied problems." Dr. Jeremy Sarkin, Distinguished Visiting Professor of Law, Hofstra University Law School
Every year 24 tons of diamonds are teased from the heart of the earth. Once mined they begin their year-long journey through the "pipeline," a vast network encompassing five continents and a diverse cast of characters. By the end of their journey these tiny bits of carbon will have made multi-millionaires of some and virtual slaves of others.

Boring deep into the diamond world, Diamond Road seeks to understand the multiple meanings this object has for a few of the fascinating people who are part of the diamond pipeline - international prospector, impoverished miner, child cutter, celebrity jeweller, smuggler, high-end dealer. Interwoven with their stories is the determined pursuit of one industry leader to bring fairness and transparency to this secretive world. What results is a multi-layered portrait of a stone which is steeped in a history of intrigue, conflict, love and hope.

Diamond Road Online is a leading-edge synthesis of documentary, online community, and the Web 2.0 techniques of Collaborative Filtering, and Personal Recommendations - the exciting techniques behind popular sites like Flickr, and

Users create online profiles that launch them on a vibrant community exploration of the global diamond trade. Using a custom designed set of client tools, they can move effortlessly through the stories in a guided experience or take a more active path and explore the Diamond Road universe using our Recommendation Engine: intelligent software that analyzes what they have already seen, what other users have seen and rated, and recommends what they should see next.

Users can choose to follow a favorite character, find out more about a particular theme, or sit back and let other users or DRO tell them a tale. At any point, they can become an "editor" of the story landscape by creating, commenting on, and sharing content sequences.

Diamond Road Online harnesses the power of technology and community to build an interactive documentary that learns from each user and is defined by the community.

Grade Level: 10-12, College, Adult
US Release Date: 2008     Copyright Date: 2007
DVD ISBN: 1-59458-782-5

"An ambitious and large film project...The social face of the film is refreshing...I recommend the Diamond Road project to anthropologists, economists, policy-makers, those concerned with mining, and anyone who wants to find out more about what a diamond really is worth."
Jan Peter Laurens Loovers, Royal Anthropological Institute and Goldsmiths University of London, Anthropology Review Database

"A gripping picture of the world and the myth behind the much-loved stone...the weight of fact is overwhelming: diamonds are sold as an idea, that idea is eternity and that eternity comes from mines staffed by the poorest people in the world."
Erik Jensen, The Sydney Morning Herald

"This film is a smart and fascinating dissection of a business that exists only because of heavy publicity, yet remains shrouded in secrecy. Diamond Road sees past the hype to show us the worldwide twists and turns -- and numerous hypocrisies -- involved in bringing a stone to market. The filmmakers went to heroic lengths to get into obscure places and create a balanced and thoughtful portrait of a trade that affects us all. I urge you not to miss this deeply human story."
Tom Zoellner, Author, The Heartless Stone: A Journey Through the World of Diamonds, Deceit and Desire

"Diamond Road is a visually gripping and important documentary. It examines the diamond world through the lens of a number of people in different parts of the world, including Sierra Leone, India, and New York. It focuses on the poor diamond miner, the child diamond cutter, the diamond trader and others within the broader industry using each of them symbolically to represent different parts of the world today. Many issues are raised by the documentary including the obligations of the developed world towards the developing world, especially with respect to limiting exploitation of those who live in the global south. As a study of the way a commodity can affect the lives of so many in the poorer parts of the world, and benefit the few so much in the richer parts of the world, this is a superb examination. It should be required viewing for everyone, especially those who are interested in socio-economic issues. It is a most useful classroom tool to raise issues concerning socio-economic deprivation, poverty reduction, and other allied problems that exist in the world today."
Dr. Jeremy Sarkin, Distinguished Visiting Professor of Law, Hofstra University Law School

"Diamond Road shows us all levels of the diamond industry from the poorest digger in Sierra Leone to the wealthiest traders in New York and Antwerp. It exposes an industry where thousands of dollars exchange hands but where little of this is seen by those who dig for diamonds or cut basic stones. In the case of Sierra Leone, Diamond Road provides a clear example of how being endowed with natural resources can be a curse for development since it leads to politicians and entrepreneurs more interested in getting their share of the wealth rather than harnessing these resources for development. The documentary also highlights the challenges of bringing the benefits of the diamond industry to its poorest participants by making the market fairer. Anyone who wants to know what can and cannot be done to improve the ground-level benefits of the diamond industry should see this documentary."
Paul Winters, Associate Professor, Department of Economics, American University

"Diamond Road seeks to understand the multiple meanings this object has for a few of the fascinating people who are part of the diamond pipeline...What results is a multi-layered portrait of a stone steeped in a history of intrigue, conflict, love and hope."

"Diamond Road is an interesting and information rich documentary that showcases the transactions in the global market of the diamond trade as well as some of the human stories behind it."
Aniuska Luna, African Peace and Conflict Network

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DVDs include public performance rights.

DVD Features
Includes chapter selection and 5 extra scenes: "Marketing De Beers", "Sierra Leone Smugglers", "Chris Aire Workshop", "Auctioneer's Craft", "Into a Man's World"; plus first person accounts from the Jewelry Trader, the Crystal Healer, the Ministers, the Stand Up Comic, and the Industry Researcher; and finally a conversation with the producer, Robert Lang.

Diamond Road interactive website
Producer's website

Awards and Festivals
Best Documentary Series, 23rd Gemini Awards
Platinum Remi Award, WorldFest Houston
International Documentary Festival of Amsterdam (IDFA)
DOXA Documentary Film Festival, Vancouver
New York Jewish Film Festival
Tri Continental Film Festival, South Africa
Human Rights Nights, Bologna
Diamond Road Online, nominated, Excellence in News/Information, Canadian New Media Awards

African Studies
Asian Studies
Business Practices
Developing World
Earth Science
Fair Trade
Human Rights
International Studies
International Trade
Marketing and Advertising
Natural Resources
Political Science

Social Justice
Sustainable Development

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... more Reviews

"Has potential value in a number of curricular areas such as African studies, economics, globalization, and human rights."
School Library Journal

"Diamond Road successfully pictures the huge, secret network of the global diamond industry in a balanced way...This film will encourage class discussions in courses such as introduction to sociology, social stratification, and any course that addresses the topic of globalization...Faculty can use the film to raise questions such as, why do the benefits of the diamond industry not trickle down to the people in the local towns? Who are the main actors in the global diamond industry and how are they interrelated? How is the civil war in Sierra Leone related to or activated by the diamond industry? What are the prospects for fair treatment of diggers in Africa in the global diamond industry?"
Kyoung-Ho Shin, Northwest Missouri State University, Teaching Sociology

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