‘The Spirit of Namibia’ is a diamond trawler and it mines around the clock. Moored off the coast of Namibia, southern Africa, where those coveted little gems carpet the ocean floor, the ship’s non-stop mission is muddied by politics and fraught with racial tension.
Directors Adi Barash and Ruthie Shatz received exclusive permission to film on ‘The Spirit of Namibia’ from the Namibians government, in joint-venture with diamond company De Beers.
The result - which shows fraying tempers, racist attitudes and a deteriorating vessel all treated with corporate indifference - hardly flatters the diamond giant. “They make us work as slaves in our own country,” one of the Namibian workers says. It’s a point illustrated to the fullest in this unobtrusive film - which shows the appalling work conditions in the lower bowels of the ship, as well as managerial attitudes to it: “I have never been down there,” says one of the South African superiors. This motley crew is itself a telling microcosm: white South Africans spewing racist theories and bad jokes; Cubans who write poetry and opine about love; an Israeli security manager who manages to make himself hated and Namibian deck hands, who have been colonized off the coast of their own country.
DIAMONDS AND RUST takes us into the raw, daily reality of an international crew, working for a faceless mining giant that controls not just the ship but the surrounding waters, too. As they battle with the failing mechanics of the rusty old ship, the men are drawn into contemplation of their situation and its dubious rewards.
YEAR / 2001
DIRECTOR / Adi Barash & Ruthie Shatz
RUNTIME / 75 min