Fair Trade — Show a Fair Trade film!

Simon Bleasdale Creative Commons

Showing a Fair Trade film, whether as part of a special film night or as part of a service or meeting, can be a great way of introducing people to Fairtrade.

A number of churches and groups have asked for recommendations of videos. Some films that church groups often use (such as Black Gold) are full-length and require the purchase of a license. If you’re looking for something shorter and available online, our nominees for “Best Introductory Picture” are ….

Yes, it’s 5 years old. But if you stop it 5 seconds before the end, no one will notice. And as a call to action, it still works. The Fairtrade Foundation’s 2010 “Big Swap” animated video is clear: our little swaps can make a big difference for Fairtrade producers and their communities.

“Fairtrade for Beginners” (Naashon Zalk Media, South Africa). Katy January, training manager for a South African fruit farm, goes on a road trip to discover how Fairtrade really works. The film shows the varied nature of Fairtrade in South Africa as Katy visits a smallholder cooperative (Eksteenskuil Agricultural Cooperative), a hired labour Fairtrade farm, and the Fairtrade offices in Cape Town. Occasionally the dialogue doesn’t flow, but the film is comprehensive and interesting. Two segments of about 15 minutes each.

Shared Interest, which makes loans to Fairtrade producers, has a series of in-depth case studies, in which producers speak about their experiences. Those covered include Mpanga Growers Tea Factory (Uganda, 9 mins); Salom (Kenya, 11 mins); and Rwandan Cooperatives (11 mins – very powerful, deals with genocide and  gender-based violence). Each helps viewers to understand not only Fairtrade production but how, with proper funding, it can scale up.

“Ending Modern Day Slavery” (CNN) Divine CEO Sophie Tranchell  explains how the company ensures traceability for its Fairtrade cocoa beans. Not the greatest artistic values, but the content is very good if people have questions about the traceability of Fairtrade products. Part of a longer CNN series on child slavery and chocolate. Short (2.5 minutes)

Impact of Fair Trade (Fairtrade Africa) One of two new films from Fairtrade Africa. In this one, Kenyans, primarily from the Runkiri Tea Fatory, talk about the impact of Fairtrade.  In the second of the films, the same people speak about  the impact of changing weather patterns on local production and what they are doing to adapt.

Films about bananas are always popular, especially with young people. So here’s a special category of “Top Banana” films …

Banana Growers’ Story, Dominica (WRENMedia) Bit of a surprise package, this one! Nothing flashy – but a terrific account of how Fairtrade banana production really works for small producers. Introduces you to the Joachim family, who walk you through the process, explaining Fairtrade along the way. WRENMedia specialises in making agriculture accessible … good job done here.

The Co-operative Film about Fairtrade Bananas (Co-operative) Looks at Fairtrade banana production at the Volta River Estates (a plantation with hired labour) in Ghana. Interesting to watch in conjunction with the first nominee. Not much on bananas, but good on the use of the Fairtrade premium – shows use for transport, and teachers and students speak about effect of computers in schools.

The Banana Industry of the Windward Islands (Guardian) Well-produced film does a good job of showing the impact of Hurricane Tomas,  European tariff changes and increased input costs on Windwards farmers.* Interesting to watch in conjunction with Oxfam’s film on the Banana Farmers Recovery Project after the last hurricane, Dean (2009).

Stick with Foncho to make bananas fair (Fairtrade Foundation) Aimed at campaigners – introduces the issues around bananas and supermarkets in a simple and direct way. The Foncho Film for Schools focuses specifically on Foncho and his family, using them as an example of how the Fairtrade price and premium work, as well introducing the wider issues around bananas.

The most recent Fairtrade Foundation banana film features Nick Hewer meeting farmers in St Lucia: a good, brief introduction that presents the challenges banana farming in the Windwards faces, as well as some inspiring responses from individuals and cooperatives. (4 minute version; 9 minute version)

And for fun … Is that a banana I see cycling past a Yorkshire tea room? Yes  … and indeed, not just one banana but a whole “peel-o-ton.” Fairtrade Yorkshire’s marvelously inventive video of banana-costumed cyclists doing part of Le Grand Depart is one for the cycling fans in your church!

Best “Talking Heads” Films …

Prince Charles’ greeting on the Fairtrade Foundation’s 20th birthday celebrations. Emphasis on the impacts of Fairtrade and the way it helps to shape sustainable food systems worldwide. (4:42)

James Mwai, Acting Executive Director, Fairtrade Africa, addressing Fairtrade Supporter Conference 2013. Introduction to Fairtrade Africa, how Fairtrade empowers people and communities, and why UK supporters matter. A very inspiring talk.  (19:44)

Best Musicals …

“The Chocolate Song, ça c’est le Max,” From Max Havelaar – starring lots of Kuapa Kokoo producers, children, Ghanaian musicians and Belgian singer Pieter Embrechts.

Fairtrade rap film made by a student at Bishop’s Stortford school: catchy, good images.

And crossing over to the “Foreign Films” category … These may not be so great for groups, but they’re super just to watch … and if you have a local foreign language speaking group, might make a nice way to introduce Fair Trade into that context. 

UK films tend to focus on English-speaking countries, which means we rarely get coverage of certain products, such as dates. But two sets of films by a Brussels-based consultant look at Fairtrade date production in Algeria, one focusing on the partnership among Tunisian cooperatives, a Tunisian exporter and a Swiss Fairtrade retailer; the other on a Tunisian company exporting Fairtrade and organic dates. Really terrific stuff that looks at the wider picture, including the local economy, the impacts of Fairtrade on agriculture and local employment, etc. The only downside … it’s in French (or other languages with French subtitles).

And just for fun…

  • you don’t actually need to know any languages to understand this film about the calming power of Fairtrade chocolate
  • this Spanish film reimagines the way that we order coffee. Make mine a tall environmental responsibility … milk, no sugar.


The Fair Trade Resource Network also has an annotated list of online films from various places. I’d be a little careful of one or two of them (eg The Dark Side of Chocolate), but you should be able to find good ones from among them.

Are there any films that you’d recommend?


Photo credit: Simon Bleasdale, Creative Commons

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