History Channel Airs Blood Diamonds Doc

As part of the media hype surrounding the movie Blood Diamond, in December the History Channel aired a two-hour documentary on the issue.

The film, Blood Diamonds, includes appearances by De Beers spokesman Andy Bone, Cecilia Gardner of the World Diamond Council and Jewelers Vigilance Committee, and Saul Goldberg of the William Goldberg Diamond Corp. as well as authors Matthew Hart (Diamond) and Greg Campbell (Blood Diamonds). Nongovernmental organizations Global Witness and Partnership Africa Canada also took part.

Blood Diamonds presents a detailed history of the wars in Angola and Sierra Leone and informs viewers about the Kimberley Process and even the Diamond Development Initiative, including the news (which likely surprised most viewers) that the NGOs and De Beers are working together on DDI.

“We really tried to be balanced,” the documentary’s executive producer Bill Brummel told JCK. “This is not trying to be an attack piece on the diamond industry. We are not calling for a boycott. Personally, I think that would be counter-productive and cause a lot of people harm.”

Still, the film does recount, in detail far more graphic than the movie Blood Diamond, atrocities that occurred during the diamond-fueled war in Sierra Leone.

“Parts of it are brutal,” admits Brummel. “It could have been a lot more brutal. We saw things that we would never put in the show.”

Perhaps because of this—or as a result of Blood Diamond‘s tepid box office—History Channel showed the film only three times, and at off-peak viewing hours.

But Brummel sees the documentary as part of a larger effort to draw attention to this issue, which includes an upcoming VH1 documentary, Bling, and Blood on the Stone, from filmmaker Sorious Samura, whose Cry Freetown depicts the war in Sierra Leone.

“It is important for people to be educated,” Brummel said. “The Kimberley Process was a huge and very important step forward. I commend the industry and the NGOs for spearheading the effort. I would encourage the NGOs to still be a watchdog, and I hope they continue to work to address the issue and close whatever loopholes that are there.

“The question I really do have is what happens if another conflict breaks out. I don’t know if, once a conflict comes, the Process will be effective. It’s an open-ended question. To me, you have to address all the underlying causes of conflict—the poverty, the social aspects, the corruption—and that is why the Diamond Development Initiative is so important.”