The Revue offered a free screening of the documentary entitled “Semisweet: Life in Chocolate”. I am very thankful that this documentary was free because the complimentary chocolate at the door (supplied by The Chocolateria) was the only redeeming quality of the event. I should have taken the unspoken advice of the man who filled a napkin with free chocolate chips and bolted for the door!
“Semisweet: Life in Chocolate”, a supposed documentary, did not offer a singular statement regarding the state of chocolate in the world. The director claimed that the inclusion of four separate segments of the chocolate industry were included in an attempt to avoid leaving the viewer with an overwhelmingly negative feeling. A crazy, but wonderfully articulate French man highlighted the artistic nature of chocolate. He was the only person who was able to properly place the importance of chocolate in the world as he stated that a 500 year old tree should not be destroyed in order to make way for cocoa plantations. A highly sexualized couple living in British Columbia, who owned a small raw chocolate business, was meant to illustrate the small, independent chocolate industry. However, due to their inability to articulately express the health benefits of raw chocolate and in the opening of a chocolate factory they remain another cog in the corporate wheel of chocolate. Additionally, the audience found this couple highly amusing, which was unintended by the director of this documentary.
The next section was meant to illustrate the corporate greed embodied in Hershey, PA but in focusing on a young, inarticulate man who worked in the town further alienated the audience. The final part of the documentary was a series of interviews with African children who worked for cocoa plantations. I found this approach to be an interesting way to cover the issue, but realistically there was probably little other choice due to financial issues and issues of reach for the director. The documentary ended with direct questions to the children, asking if they knew what cocoa was for. This was condescending to the audience as anyone who has a base level of knowledge of the cocoa trade would know that African children are unlikely to have tasted chocolate. It was also highly condescending to the children involved.
The movie, a supposed documentary, did not offer a singular statement regarding the issues surrounding the chocolate trade and should be avoided at all costs, expect, of course, if they are handing out complimentary chocolate!