Screened as part of NZIFF 2014
It started life in 2007 as an all-access account of Texas oil firm Kosmos’ negotiations with Ghana government officials for offshore mining rights. Over seven years Rachel Boynton’s documentary evolved into something much more comprehensive. It eventually encompassed global financial collapse in 2008, regime change in Ghana and at Kosmos, and fallout from the oil industry catastrophe in nearby Nigeria. The insight it provides into the multiple ambitions vying at the prospect of a $22 billion oil find is amazing.
“This cool and incisive snapshot of global capitalism at work is as remarkable for its access as for its refusal to judge. Tagging neither heroes nor villains, Ms Boynton wonders instead who benefits from, and who is harmed by, the billions of dollars in play... Bringing to life a netherworld of shifting agreements and shuffling allegiances, Big Men unfurls a complicated story teeming with masked militants, well-fed politicians, reassuring suits and the desperate poor.” — Jeannette Catsoulis, NY Times
“Big Men is a richly detailed portrait of a small American oil company’s quest to begin drilling a deepwater oil field... It’s also a richly detailed portrait of Ghana’s attempts to lure foreign financiers to help exploit the find – and, after elections install a new populist president running on an anti-corruption platform, of Ghana’s determination not to see oil become another gold or cocoa, resources the world has long wrung from the country without its people seeing much benefit... Will Ghana succeed? This film, a great one, demands a follow-up.” — Alan Scherstuhl, Village Voice