Blood in the Mobile

Did you know your mobile phone contributes to violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo? Danish director Frank Piasecki Poulsen takes on the Congolese military and warlords to gain access to Bisie, a militia-controlled mine that produces cassiterite, a tin oxide used in cell phones. In this courageous documentary, Poulsen reveals a mineral trade plagued with violence and human exploitation.


Frank Piasecki Poulsen





Running Time

82 mins

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SFGFF Film Program:

Blod_i_mobilen._Hand_with_minerals3MED.jpgFrank Piasecki Poulsen, a Danish version of Michael Moore but less self-publicizing, adopts a faux-naïf persona to investigate how far Nokia, one of the world's biggest mobile manufacturers, is aware that minerals essential to its product (most significantly cassiterite) are illegally mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo by slave laborers and finance the lethal activities of local warlords. The intrepid Dane's journey takes him to parts of the Congo that the United Nations' peace-keeping force is too afraid to enter. There he inspects the hellish mines where teenage workers are exploited and robbed, and he meets a cast of characters who might have been created by Greene, Waugh and le Carré. Back in Europe and Washington he speaks to dedicated people connected with NGOs seeking equity and transparency for the trade in these "conflict minerals", and manages to interview bland Nokia representatives with advanced degrees in public obfuscation, but not the Finnish corporation's CEO. ~ Philip French, The Observer

Blood in the Mobile arrives at a time when recent legislation passed by Congress in the US requiring more transparency in the extractive industry seems to already be making an impact in Africa, even before its implementation. Similar legislation is now being sought at an EU level. "We can't leave it up to the companies themselves to solve," says Poulsen, "because they have had a fair chance at it."

Screening: March 4, 2012 at New People Cinema. SF Premiere.

Panel Discussion: Cradle-to-Cradle

The panel will be driven by questions from the audience but will include consumer actions and solutions including: consumer campaigns, emerging green labels, supply chain responsibility, and innovative breakthroughs in the sustainable design community.  

With: Heidi Quante (moderator); Sheila Davis, Executive Director, Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition; Michael Watts, Professor of Geography and Development Studies, UC Berkeley

WINNER: 2012 Green Tenacity Award