Documentary "Blame Game" Covers More Angles at Agbogbloshie

Directors Juan Solera and Albert Julia's English-language documentary, Blame Game, can now be viewed on Amazon Prime.  The documentary was aired at the 2019 E-Scrap Conference in Orlando, Florida, and Good Point Recycling of Vermont sponsored the travel costs for the directors (from Spain), on behalf of Fair Trade Recycling.

Short clip (Teaser) available on Vimeo.  

Link to full documentary on Amazon Prime:

The Event was well attended by E-Scrap standards.  Jim Puckett of Basel Action Network opened questions from the audience, stating it was the best film he'd seen on the subject.  He then went on --- very curiously -- to ask why the filmmakers had not given more air time to proponents of the Basel Convention?

The curious insinuation was that he had not been interviewed.  But he had been. The directors had honored his own demand not to include his interview, perhaps because he had made a false claim on camera.

Directors Solera and Julia seemed dumbfounded, and staggered to answer.  The documentary had iincluded interviews with Basel Convention expert Katharina Kummer Peiry, UK prosecutors, and Greenpeace.  But they were dumbfounded by Jim's question, because they had actually interviewed Jim Puckett himself for about 10 minutes.  When the last question to Puckett was whether he knew who Joe Benson was, Puckett became furious, walked off camera, and shouted that he would not sign a release form and would sue if they used his interview. Juan Solera said Jim then called him in Spain and berated him for including two questions I'd suggested, one on Benson, and one of his claims about the percentage of exports that are reused vs. discarded.

I asked Jim a few hours later why he had claimed not to know who Joseph Benson was. Jim said that he considered Benson "collateral damage".  As readers know, Benson was the first person to be framed with a hidden GPS tracker, and sentenced to 60 months in prison, due to BAN's claims that it was "common knowledge" that 80% of the TVs he exported would be "quite quickly" dumped and burned.

The directors also cut a false claim by Mike "Fishing as a Boy" Anane (who Jim Puckett still offers as an "expert", despite Anane's false claims exposed in EWaste Republic and PBS Frontline.

No Fair Trade Recycling member had sold to Benson, but we could see plainly that the TVs in the BBC Panorama video were all the same size and brand, a tell-tale sign of a hotel takeout.  Benson had been buying TVs when hotels upgrade them.  The only physical evidence that TVs he exported were "illegal" or "waste" was the BBC reporter Raphael Rowe's claim to have "snipped a cable" in the TV with the GPS tracker, carefully reassembling the TV.  Like poisoning and apple, Rowe claimed this was evidence that the TVs Benson exported were going to be scrapped....

But, Rowe and his camera crew had to follow the GPS tracker to Ghana and then PURCHASE it for 40 British pounds sterling.  From a house, not from a scrap pile in Agbogbloshie.

Blame Game does not follow Benson's story as well as we hoped, and by cutting out footage of Puckett and Michael Anane making false claims, they make a journalistic error (Solera said they had to cut things that they knew not to be true, and that Puckett had threatened legal action.  I think a public person who makes a living as an expert, who is caught lying on camera, has no legal recourse to ban the lies from being broadcast).

Wahab Muhammed Odoi bravely sat in for the interview, and attended the conference to answer questions.  He and Solera said that EWaste will always be found in Africa, because Africans have owned TVs for decades.  Puckett then claimed that he had stopped Ewaste in China, that there was no ewaste there anymore, seeming deaf to the logic that most ewaste is generated by African and Chinese consumers... and that even if he had stopped imports of used goods (he has not), that ewaste will indeed continue to exist every place that had TV stations in the 1970s.

Still, Solera and Julia's documentary does much to correct the wildly false impressions conveyed by Pieter Hugo and Placebo's "Life Is What You Make It"... Blog readers may remember I was blocked by Placebo and labelled insane by Rainbow for writing an open letter to them, referring them to vetted research like Memorial University's Reassembling Rubbish author Dr. Josh Lepawsky and others. My letter identified several sensationalist claims about Agbogbloshie, and tried to convey the sense of exploitation of "poverty porn" images by people in the video. 

Juan Solera and Albert Julia also struggled in their documentary with how to portray pollution and poverty without "exploiting" it.  They try, though at times the documentary feels like it has been assembled by committee... one senses that the directors could not bring themselves to cut out film that would tend to sensationalize and exploit... no doubt the parts Jim Puckett appreciated. But Juan and Albert and Fernando took the time to film both sides, and made a huge effort to distinguish themselves from those who benefit financially by exploiting misconceptions. (See photos in the June 2016 open letter to Placebo).

In related news, Sasha Rainbow, the director of that 2016 Placebo MTV video (that heralded Agbogbloshie as the largest e-waste dump on earth where most of Europe's junk is illegally dumped), has finished her short film "Kofi and Lartey". Her quote below opens by stating "There has been much documentation of Agbogbloshie in recent years, but in most cases it has come from a sensationalist perspective." She no doubt learned that from featuring @Alhassan Ibn Abdalla. I know Abdalla and follow him, got him an interview on BBC in 2015 flood and forced Agbo relocations. He is an activist on slum dweller human rights.  Glad she recognized the "sensationalism" mistake, and learned from him. No hard feelings, Rainbow).

Bob Dylan's "Hurricane" still describes Joe Benson's plight the best.
Pistol shots ring out in the barroom night
Enter Patty Valentine from the upper hallShe sees the bartender in a pool of bloodCries out, “My God, they killed them all!”Here comes the story of the HurricaneThe man the authorities came to blameFor something that he never donePut in a prison cell, but one time he could-a beenThe champion of the world

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