Evocative film Fairtrade Matters premieres

Ebson

A cinematic glimpse into the challenges faced by tea producers in Malawi
as recent floods leave hundreds dead, many more homeless and crops devastated

 

Fairtrade Matters’, a new evocative and thought-provoking short film by the Fairtrade Foundation, created by GOOD Agency and produced by HLA and their director Will Robson-Scott, offers a glimpse into the lives of just two of the farmers and workers at the heart of Fairtrade.

In a touching portrait of the everyday reality of life behind our daily cuppa, the film explores the vulnerability of families and communities and some of the many challenges tea farmers and workers face. Captivating, moving and sometimes stark, the film touches on the universal themes that affect us all – from providing for our children to planning for an uncertain future.

With cinematic landscapes of rural southern Malawi never far away, the film features poignant portraits of tea producers Edson Maotchedwe, a 45-year old tea farmer and dedicated father of seven and Tsala Mwale, a 28-year-old single mother of one, and a pioneer in her village where she was the first to bring solar power to her home who works in a tea processing factory.

GOOD Agency, HLA and their Director Robson-Scott, combined hand-held DSLR cameras with the latest in stabilisation technology for a truly cinematic piece which remains both intimate and emotional in character and depth. 
 
'Fairtrade Matters’ will premiere for press in Fairtrade Fortnight at the Courthouse Cinema, Soho, on 25th February, followed by screenings across the UK organized by Fairtrade campaigners. There are 10,000 local campaigning groups across the country, including Towns, Schools, Universities and Faith Groups who are expected to get involved with Fairtrade Fortnight.

Typically, workers like Edson and Tsala on conventional farms and estates face low prices for their tea, notoriously low worker wages, long working hours and a difficult relationship with estate management who they depend on for basic needs such as housing, healthcare, access to water and education for their children. Fairtrade seeks to tackle these problems to uphold workers’ rights including their rights to work safely.

Just weeks after the film was shot, devastating floods tragically hit the country, leaving hundreds dead, 200,000 people displaced and crops and livelihoods devastated. Malawi has a population of 13 million and is one of the poorest countries in the world.

Fairtrade producer groups have also been affected by the tragedy, with a loss of seven lives, countless farms and crops washed away, highlighting the fragility of life for tea and other producers in Malawi.

 ‘It was a great opportunity to travel to Malawi and meet the people who make our tea, and to witness and furthermore document the incredible work Fairtrade Foundation does.  What was also abundantly clear throughout the process was the need for continued help.  

Our goal was always to create a film that isn’t the norm for the charity sector, I wanted something more emotional, original and powerful, we are extremely happy and proud of the results.  We hope audiences will feel an emotional connection with the subjects of the film whilst watching it, in the same way that we did whilst making it, and that this will encourage a continued and increased propensity to purchase Fairtrade products.,’ said director Will Robson-Scott.

This year’s Fairtrade Fortnight (23 February – 8 March, 2015), is a two-week national campaign that will encourage everyone in the UK to “choose products that change lives”.

First launched in 1995, this year’s Fairtrade Fortnight campaign will turn the spotlight on producers who grow some of the British public’s favourite everyday commodities – including cocoa, sugar and tea – to show the difference that Fairtrade makes to their lives. For more information about Fairtrade Fortnight 2015, visit www.fairtrade.org.uk/fortnight .

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Case studies and images available at http://tinyurl.com/ls2m4pg . To watch the 90 second and 15 minute versions of the film, visit http://fortnight.fairtrade.org.uk/ , more information or interviews please contact Martine Parry, Media & PR Manager, on 0207 440 7695/ 07886 301486 or email martine.parry@fairtrade.org.uk.

Notes to Editors

 

The Fairtrade Foundation is an independent certification body which licenses the use of the FAIRTRADE Mark on products which meet international Fairtrade standards. This independent consumer label appears on products to show that disadvantaged producers are getting a better deal from trade. Today, more than 1.4 million people – farmers and workers – across more than 70 developing countries benefit from the international Fairtrade system.

Over 4,500 products have been licensed to carry the FAIRTRADE Mark including coffee, tea, herbal teas, chocolate, cocoa, sugar, bananas, grapes, pineapples, mangoes, avocados, apples, pears, plums, grapefruit, lemons, oranges, satsumas, clementines, mandarins, lychees, coconuts, dried fruit, juices, smoothies, biscuits, cakes & snacks, honey, jams & preserves, chutney & sauces, rice, quinoa, herbs &  spices, seeds, nuts & nut oil, wines, beers, rum, confectionary, muesli, cereal bars, yoghurt, ice-cream, flowers, sports balls, sugar body scrub and cotton products including clothing, homeware, cloth toys, cotton wool, olive oil, gold, silver and platinum.

Businesses supporting Fairtrade Fortnight range from pioneering Fairtrade brands such as Clipper, Cafédirect, Green & Black’s and Divine Chocolate, to Ben & Jerry’s, major brands such as Cadbury Dairy Milk, high street retailers including Sainsbury’s and the Co-operative, which both stock branded and own-label Fairtrade products, and out-of-home outlets such as Starbuck’s and Greggs.

While the majority of the world’s tea is produced on big plantations or estates, it is also grown on small plots of land by smallholder farmers.  These farmers are regularly hit by low fluctuating prices for their green tea leaf – the Fairtrade Minimum Prices acts as a safety net when prices fall below what it costs to produce. The Fairtrade Premium, the extra sum that farmers and workers receive, is there to be invested not just in community projects like ambulances and clean water but business initiatives too, to support improvements in productivity and quality.

Increasing sales of Fairtrade tea is vital to improving conditions for tea farmers and workers, who are also facing the challenges posed by climate change. Research shows that where co-operatives and estates sell Fairtrade tea, the combination of Fairtrade Standards and Fairtrade Premium has improved conditions and deliver other benefits for farmers and workers.

However, making progress towards living wages – defined as the amount needed for a decent standard of living for the worker and their family, from food and water to education and health care – requires industry-wide action. We are supporting Fairtrade International’s programme to achieve this. For more information about Fairtrade tea, visit http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/en/farmers-and-workers/tea .

Will Robson-Scott

Born in London Will began his career as a photographer documenting people living on the fringes of society. He has produced several seminal and highly acclaimed books, his photographic coverage of notoriously clandestine subcultures becoming hugely successful. His two year project ‘Top Deck’ was exhibited in the gallery space of Mother, London.  His foray into film has found him wide acclaim including five Vimeo ‘Staff Picks’. His films continue his interest in people who are urban outsiders with his short film ‘Chi Raq’ becoming a YouTube phenomenon.

HLA: Founded in 1987 HLA is one of the longest running and respected production companies in the UK, delivering pioneering films for the biggest brands and companies around the world. HLA continues to reinforce its reputation as the original production company for recognising and nurturing new directing talent.

GOOD Agency: We’re an integrated communications agency that creates powerful and emotive campaigns that enrich people’s lives to inspire them to act. We develop integrated campaigns that are multi discipline; PR, Marketing, Campaigning and Fundraising and cross channel; advertising, direct response, digital and social. We have doing this for 20 years; there are 50 of us based in Waterloo all committed to creating campaigns that unleash the good in people and organisations. For further information, please visit www.thegoodagency.co.uk