NEWS

Jackson in water.

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  • HOME VIDEO

    HOME VIDEO

    $24.99 Home Video

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    For other uses of the film, please see the additional links on this page or visit "Host a Screening."

  • CLASSROOM EXHIBITION

    CLASSROOM EXHIBITION

    $249.99 Educational Version  

    We strongly encourage academic institutions to purchase an educational version licensed for unlimited academic exhibition for their library. The academic version includes a copy of the film, discussion guide, talking points, and supplementary videos specially designed to stimulate classroom discussion. By including Good Fortune in your school's library, you make the film available to any teacher or student at any time.

    Discussion Guide

    * Please note that the filmmakers are available to guide discussions on international development and producing social issue media. Please contact us for more information.

  • CONFERENCES AND EVENTS

    CONFERENCES AND EVENTS

    Good Fortune is available for a variety of public events, conferences, and local movie theater screenings. For free, public events under 150 people, please see Host a Screening. For events of over 150 people or where admission is charged, please contact us for more information. The filmmakers are also available to guide discussions on international development and producing social issue media.

  • COMMUNITY SCREENINGS

    COMMUNITY SCREENINGS

    Good Fortune is available for a variety of community screenings, conferences, trainings, forums, student groups, and theatrical screenings. For further information on how to arrange a public screening, please download our event planning toolkit. We have developed a number additional of resources to make it easy for you to host a screening, please choose the option that best fits your needs:

    • Community Screening Kit

      $99  

      This kit is designed to maximize your community screening and ultimately pays for itself! Each kit includes a DVD licensed for your private community group as well as 5 DVDs for you to sell at your event (suggested retail price $20) to offset the cost of the kit. The Community Screening Kit also includes a community discussion guide, supplementary videos profiling alternative approaches to international development, and an electronic poster template—just download, fill in your event info, and print. (Please note that these DVDs are intended for small, in-house community screenings and are not licensed for schools, screening series, conferences, or library use).

    • Conferences, large public screenings, and paid events

      If you want to hold a screening for more than 150 people, or an event with paid admission, please contact us.

    • Host the Filmmakers

      The filmmakers are available to answer questions at public screenings and guide discussions on international development and producing social issue media. Additional costs may apply, please contact us for more information.

Silva with tractor.

SCREENINGS

November 12, 2012
Mississippi State University.
Fowlkes Auditorium, Colvard Student Union, Mississippi State University
  75 BS Hood Drive
  Starkville MS 39762
  USA
7:00 pm
February 20, 2012
Norfolk Film Series
Angel Orensanz Foundation
  172 Norfolk Street
  New York NY 10002
  USA
6:30 pm
November 11, 2011
The Links, Incorporated
Willingboro Public Library
  220 Willingboro Parkway
  Willingboro NJ

6:30 pm
November 4, 2011
OSU Cineculture at Oklahoma State University
OSU Cineculture

  Stillwater OK

5:30 pm
August 19, 2011
Our Place
Our Place Cafe
  251 W 80th Street
  New York NY 10024
  USA
7:00 pm
August 5, 2011
The Independent space gallery and cooperative

  19 E Main Street
  Kutztown PA

7:00 pm
April 17, 2011
Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival
Ithaca College

  Ithaca NY
  USA
9:30 pm
March 12, 2011
Movies with a Mission
Alexandria Black History Museum
  902 Wythe Street
  Alexandria VA 22314
  USA
4:30 pm
March 6, 2011
San Francisco Green Film Festival
Landmark Theaters Embarcadero Center
  1 Embarcadero Center
  San Francisco CA 94111
  USA
12:00 pm
February 26, 2011
Louisville Free Public Library Iroquois Branch and P.O.V. Present
Film Discussion African Film Series
  601 W Woodlawn Ave
  Louisville KY 40215
  USA
2:00 pm
February 22, 2011
United Nations Young Professionals for International Cooperation presents "Africa at 50"
The Room Mate Grace Hotel
  125 West 45th Street
  New York NY 10036
  USA
7:00 pm
February 15, 2011
Marymount Manhattan College and P.O.V. Present
Millennium Development Goal Week
  221 E 71st St.
  New York NY 10021
  USA
4:00 pm
February 8, 2011
Georgia College & State University and P.O.V. Present
Putting a Face on Poverty Symposium
  Magnolia Ballroom
  Milledgeville GA
  USA
8:30 pm
January 27, 2011
Brooklyn Museum and POV Present
Brooklyn Museum
  200 Eastern Parkway, NY
  Brooklyn NY 11238
  USA
7:00 pm
January 27, 2011
Global Issues Film Festival
KIVA at University of Michigan-Flint
  303 E. Kearsley St.
  Flint MI 48348
  USA
7:00 pm
January 25, 2011
Global Issues Film Festival
KIVA at University of Michigan-Flint
  303 E. Kearsley St.
  Flint MI 48348
  USA
5:30 pm
January 25, 2011
University of Michigan Center for Ethics in Public Life
Museum of Art - Helmut Sterns Auditorium
  525 S. State
  Ann Arbor MI 48109
  USA
7:00 pm
December 12, 2010
Kathmandu International Mountain Film Festival (KIMFF)


  Kathmandu
  Nepal
5:00 pm
December 9, 2010
Fri Cine Ambiental


  Rio de Janeiro
  Brazil
6:00 pm
December 6, 2010
Movies That Matter Film Tour
various cities
  Tolsteegbrug 1
  Utrecht 3511
  Netherlands
7:00 pm
November 23, 2010
One World Film Festival


  Bratislava
  Slovakia
5:45 pm
November 20, 2010
Il Grande Sentiero
Bergamo - Auditorium
  Piazza della Libertà
  Bergamo 24121
  Italy
6:00 pm
November 15, 2010
Marymount Manhattan College and POV Present
Marymount Manhattan College

  New York NY
  USA
7:30 pm
November 4, 2010
CPH:DOX


  Copenhagen
  Denmark
5:30 pm
November 1, 2010
Christopher Newport University and POV Present
Christopher Newport University

  Newport News VA
  USA
7:00 pm
October 31, 2010
Move It! Film Festival
Thalia Theater
  Gorlitz Straße 6
  Dresden 01099
  Germany
5:00 pm
October 22, 2010
FXB International
Church Center for the United Nations
  777 United Nations Plaza
  New York NY 10017
  USA
6:00 pm
October 21, 2010
DOCSDF 5º Festival Internacional de Cine Documental de la Ciudad de México


  Mexico City
  Mexico
7:00 pm
October 21, 2010
Festival des Libertés 2010
le Théâtre National
  Boulevard Emile Jacqmain
  Brussels 1000
  Belgium
7:00 pm
October 16, 2010
Global Development in Cinema, HumanDoc International Film Festival
State Ethnographic Museum

  Warsaw
  Poland
2:40 pm
October 15, 2010
New York University
Puck Building
  295 Lafayette Ave
  New York NY
  USA
4:00 pm
October 10, 2010
Flagstaff Mountain Film Festival
Orpheum Theater
  15 W. Aspen St
  Flagstaff AZ
  USA
10:00 am
October 1, 2010
2010 Tri-Continental Film Festival



  South Africa
7:00 pm
October 1, 2010
8th Annual Human Rights Film Festival
Syracuse University
  215 University Place
  Syracuse NY 13244
  USA
7:00 pm
October 1, 2010
Take One Action Film Festival
Filmhouse Edinburgh
  88 Lothian Road
  Edinburgh Scotland EH3 9BZ
  United Kingdom
7:00 pm
September 30, 2010
Indianapolis Museum of Art

  4000 Michigan Road
  Indianapolis IN
  USA
7:00 pm
September 23, 2010
Reykjavík International Film Festival (RIFF)


  Reykjavík
  Iceland
7:00 pm
September 23, 2010
Human Rights Film Series and POV Present
Katzen Arts Center
  4400 Massachusetts Avenue Northwest
  Washington D.C. 20016
  USA
5:30 pm
July 13, 2010
Special screening during POV broadcast premiere
DCTV
  87 Lafayette Street
  New York NY 10003
  USA
9:00 pm
June 16, 2010
International Millenium Festival
Cinema Vendome, Hall 5
  Chaussée de Wavre 18
  Brussels 1050
  Belgium
1:00 pm
May 8, 2010
Scene: Brooklyn
UnionDocs
  322 Union Ave
  Brooklyn New York
  USA
7:30 pm
March 27, 2010
Movies That Matter Festival
Theater Aan Het Spui
  Spui 187, 2511 BN 's-Gravenhage
  The Hague
  Netherlands
2:00 pm
March 27, 2010
Cleveland International Film Festival
Tower City Cinemas
  230 West Huron Road
  Cleveland Ohio 44113
  USA
2:00 pm
March 21, 2010
Tiburon Film Festival
Tiburon Playhouse Theater
  40 Main Street
  Tiburon CA 94920
  USA
9:00 pm
March 20, 2010
Human Rights Watch International Film Festival
The Ritzy, Brixton Oval
  Brixton Oval, Coldharbour Lane, Brixton
  London SW2 1JG
  United Kingdom
7:00 pm
March 12, 2010
Thessaloniki Documentary Festival
TBD

  Thessaloniki
  Greece
7:00 pm
March 3, 2010
One World International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival
TBD

  Prague
  Czech Republic
7:00 pm
February 27, 2010
Salem Film Festival
Cinema Salem
  2 E India Square Mall
  Salem Massachusetts 01970
  USA
4:15 pm
February 25, 2010
Development Matters
Center for Global Development
  1800 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Third Floor
  Washington. DC 20036
  USA
6:30 pm
February 14, 2010
Big Sky Documentary Film Festival
Wilma II Theater
  131 South Higgins Ave
  Missoula Montana 59802
  USA
5:15 pm
January 21, 2010
Working Films
92Y Tribeca
  200 Hudson Street
  New York New York 10013
  USA
7:30 pm
Silva on train.

LEARN MORE

  • SIMILAR CASE STUDIES


    View The Global Impacts of Development Work in a larger map

    In the feature documentary GOOD FORTUNE, we see Jackson and Silva fighting massive international development projects that are threatening their homes and livelihoods. Jackson and Silva's stories in GOOD FORTUNE are not unique to Kenya, or even Africa. Stories of forced evictions in the name of progress can be found in every country and every period of history—from the flooding of a Boston suburb in the early 20th century to a failed 1995 Indonesian swamp conversion project to the recent widespread slum evictions in Zimbabwe.

    This map highlights development projects from around the globe that demonstrate similar consequences to those shown in Jackson and Silva’s stories and also links to organizations fighting on behalf of the threatened communities. If something like this is happening in your community, or you have learned about similar efforts in another part of the world, add them to the map and join the discussion on better ways to move forward.

  • FOREIGN AID

    The term "foreign aid" can refer to a variety of forms of assistance from one country to another such as disaster or famine relief, economic stabilization, humanitarian assistance, even military support. Good Fortune focuses specifically on "economic development assistance," the form of aid that encompasses the largest share of the U.S. foreign aid budget today. Through economic development programs, policymakers hope to alleviate poverty by developing strong economies and providing effective social services such as healthcare, education, even good governance.

    Formal U.S. foreign aid policies began after World War II and were directed at rebuilding Europe. Joint international projects included the establishment of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank), but the best known American effort was the Marshall Plan, which operated from 1947-1951. The great success of the Plan shaped subsequent American approaches to foreign aid. In 1951, Post WWII security in the form of military assistance was added to economic development, and as international efforts through new organizations like the United Nations grew, so, too did programs in the U.S. Initiatives targeted at specific needs, like hunger or loans for capital projects were scattered throughout various government agencies. In the 1960s the U.S. formally refocused its aid from Europe to developing nations, carrying over many of the policies developed to rebuild Europe after World War II to alleviating poverty in Africa, Latin America, and Asia.

    The subsequent decades witnessed varying degrees of support for foreign aid, with several of the most significant efforts for economic development coming in the last decade. In 2001, all 192 member states of the United Nations adopted eight goals for international development, popularly known as the "Millennium Development Goals" (MGDs) to achieve by the year 2015. Among the MGDs are eradicating extreme poverty, universal primary education, promoting gender equality, reducing child mortality, combatting HIV and malaria, environmental protection, and developing global partnerships for development. In 2005, at the G8 Summit at Gleneagles, the world's wealthiest nations agreed to double aid to Africa, dedicating a total of $50 billion per year to accomplishing the MGDs.

    While some countries such as China and India have developed rapidly and significantly reduced poverty levels, the sobering reality is that despite this support — and a total of $2.3 trillion in aid — most regions of Africa have yet to make significant strides to increase quality of life. To learn more about efforts to revise our aid policy and find more effective means of development follow the links below:

  • KIBERA

    Kibera is considered on of the largest informal settlements in the world, with a collection of more than 100,000 dwellings comprising twelve villages on the southern side of Nairobi. With an estimated population of up to a million people living in an area the size of New York's Central Park, it is one of the most densely populated places on earth.

    Kibera's roots began with settlement by Nubian soldiers who returned to Kenya after fighting for the British colonial powers in World War I. A flood of migrants from impoverished rural areas have settled in Kibera because of its proximity to Nairobi and the hope of employment in the city's industrial area.

    Much of the land is officially owned by the government, though a 2002 University of Nairobi study found that government officers or politicians claimed private ownership of a significant percentage (perhaps over half) of the dwellings. About 90% of Kibera residents rent their homes from middle-class Kenyans who have built temporary structures on the government land over the last 30 years. Some of those landlords sued to stop the government from demolishing shacks that they owned.

    Questions over ownership have prevented some community members from improving their homes because the government will not let them build permanent structures on land that the government claims. In other instances, because the settlements are not government sanctioned, residents have no protections against landlords who refuse to provide basic services. So most of Kibera lacks basic sanitation, running water, or legal electricity.

    SLUM UPGRADING PROJECT

    The Kenya Slum Upgrading Program (KENSUP) to improve living conditions in Kibera resulted from conversations between the Executive Director of UN-Habitat and the President of Kenya that began in 2000 and resulted in a formal grant agreement in 2002. The program was jointly funded by the UN-Habitat, the World Bank’s Cities Alliance and the Government of Kenya. The objective of the project is to improve the overall livelihoods of people living and working in slums through targeted interventions to address shelter, infrastructure services, land tenure and employment issues, as well as the impact of HIV/AIDS in slum settlements.

    According to the UNHabitat website, the project includes the following levels of implementation:

    1. The establishment of institutional structures for input, approval, and coordination, including:
      • Inter-Agency Coordination Committee (IACC). Members include the Ministries of: Roads, Public Works and Housing, Lands and Settlement, Local Government, and Water, as well as the Nairobi City Council.
      • A national KENSUP Secretariat at the Ministry of Roads, Public Works and Housing.
      • Program Implementation (PIU) at the Housing Development Department of the Nairobi City Council.
      • Settlement Program Implementation Unit (SPIU) to be based in each of the settlements.
      • And a Settlement Executive Committee (SEC) made up of community members in each settlement.
    2. The completion of a social and economic mapping of the area. This included
      • identifying key leaders and actors in the 12 villages in Kibera slum,
      • conducting numerous meetings to sensitize the communities on slum upgrading,
      • creating and operating a communication/media Strategy to ensure that all aspects of the project are effectively communicated to all stakeholders operating in Kibera,
      • and creating a social and economic profile of Kibera (completed by consulting firm Research International).
    3. Creating a digitized, detailed physical map of Kibera, including geological features as well as detailed information on structures in Kibera, describing ownership, use and type of structure (permanent or temporary).
    4. Creating a proposed layout for Kibera showing the rearrangement of structures to lessen density and provide services.
    5. Locating and preparing a decanting site to house the residents of Kibera who will have to be moved to make way for upgraded infrastructure and services.
  • YALA SWAMP

    The Yala Swamp is actually a complex of freshwater wetlands in the delta of the Yala River on the northeast shore of Lake Victoria in Western Kenya. The wetlands protect Lake Victoria, acting as a natural filter for agricultural pollutants and silt before water enters the lake. They also support the biodiversity needed for local fishing practices critical to the indigenous Luo and Luhya people, help control floods, and provide an opportunity for the method of farming done by people in the film, like Jackson Omondi.

    Efforts to increase the productivity of the land by draining the swamp have taken place since the 1950s. In more recent years, awareness of the importance of the wetlands has made such efforts particularly controversial. Efforts to increase agricultural production to feed a growing population are in an ongoing struggle with efforts to preserve this key ecosystem and the cultural practices of indigenous residents that have kept it in balance for hundreds of years.

    DOMINION FARMS

    Against a backdrop of as many as one-third of Kenyan people facing starvation on a regular basis, the Kenyan government developed Vision 2030, which, among other things, encouraged leasing lands to companies like the Dominion Group that would invest private capital to develop agricultural production capacity. The government has been especially interested in irrigation technologies because 95% of Kenya’s crop land has been dependent on rain alone, which leads to periodic food shortages resulting from drought.

    The Dominion Group, a privately held collection of diverse companies, is owned by Calvin Burgess and based in Oklahoma. The Group is dedicated to privatization and is arguably best known for construction of office buildings and prisons that it leases to state and federal governments in the U.S. Dominion Farms is the company’s only agricultural project.

    In 2003 Dominion Farms was granted a 25-year lease of 2,300 hectares of the Yala Swamp to establish an irrigated, modern rice farm. With a $26 million investment, Dominion Farms created an irrigated commercial farming operation – a process involving 80 miles of canals, a complex system of flood control dikes and the necessary infrastructure for the growing, drying, milling and storage of rice and other commodity grains. Beyond the production and sale of rice and other grains (and later tilapia fish), Dominion promised to:

    • Alleviate poverty
    • Ensure food security
    • Establish flood controls
    • Build infrastructure, including schools and clinics
    • Create employment
    • Demonstrate successful irrigation technologies and train Kenyans in modern agricultural methods
    • Attract other businesses
    • Earn a profit (to provide a model for Kenya to end dependence on foreign aid)

    The company’s intention is to improve local quality of life, and at least some of their goals have been achieved. Initial rice crops harvested in 2006 resulted in some of the highest yields per acre ever recorded and the project has employed some local residents.

    However, the farm has also experienced its share of setbacks and controversies. In addition to the breaking of the dam that is discussed in the film, Dominion has reported being asked for bribes by political officials and has accused opponents, like the Kenya Land Alliance, of sabotaging its work.

  • TAKE ACTION VIDEOS

    Good Fortune explores two major development projects at odds with the communities they are designed to benefit, begging the question "what can we do better?" There are thousands of humanitarian organizations actively working to alleviate poverty, with numerous ideas philosophies and approaches. To identify some of the most effective, progressive aid organizations, we sat down with four of the most respected experts in the field.

    Wangari Maathai & The Green Belt Movement


    Wangari Maathai is a Kenyan environmentalist and political activist. In the 1970s, Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement, an environmental NGO focused on environmental conservation and women's rights. In 2004, she became the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for her contributions to sustainable development, democracy, and peace.

    The Green Belt Movement (http://greenbeltmovement.org) organizes rural women in Kenya to plant trees, an effort that combats deforestation while generating income for the community and promoting empowerment for women. Since Maathai founded the Movement, over 40 million trees have been planted and over 30,000 women have been trained in forestry, food processing, beekeeping, and other sustainable, income-generating activities.

    Wangari Maathai also recommends:

    Amartya Sen & FXB International


    Amartya Sen is an Indian economist and is currently a Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard University. Sen won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics in 1998 for his contributions to the study of welfare economics. Known as "the Mother Teresa of Economics," Sen focuses his work on human development theory, welfare economics, and the underlying mechanisms of poverty, gender inequality, and political liberalism. In this video, Sen outlines his philosophy of "Development as Freedom."

    Sen identifies FXB International (http://fxb.org) as one organization that operates in concordance with his theories of economic development. Founded in 1989, FXB International is an organization aimed at providing support for children affected by HIV/AIDS and poverty, operating under the belief that the best solution for helping these children is to strengthen the social and economic capacities of their communities. One component of the organization's work is the establishment of FXB Villages. The selected communities take part in a three-year program marked by the gradual transfer of responsibility from FXB counselors and nurses to the villagers themselves. During this time, FXB works to develop important life skills among community members in the hope that they will ultimately become physically, financially, and socially independent. This video highlights an FXB Village in Uganda.

    Amartya Sen also suggests:

    Jeffrey Sachs & the Millennium Villages Project


    Jeffrey Sachs is a world-renowned economist and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. From 2002 to 2006, Sachs was the Director of the United Nations' Millennium Project Millennium Development Goals (eight internationally sanctioned objectives to reduce extreme poverty, hunger, and disease by 2015) and now serves as Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Sachs is also the founder and co-President of the Millennium Promise Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending extreme poverty and hunger.

    The Millennium Village Project is a product of Sachs' work and is supported by the Earth Institute at Columbia University, the United Nations Development Program, and the Millennium Promise Alliance. The Millennium Villages promote an integrated approach to rural development; by improving access to clean water, sanitation and other essential infrastructure, supporting education, food production, basic health care, and environmental sustainability, the Millennium Villages Project works to develop sustainable opportunities for communities to lift themselves out of poverty. While there are 13 official Millennium Villages throughout sub-Saharan Africa, this video focuses on one village in Sari, Kenya.

    George Ayittey & "The Cheetah Generation"


    George Ayittey is a Ghanaian economist, author, and founder of the Free Africa Foundation in Washington D.C. Ayittey argues that African poverty is directly related to African freedom, and that Africa suffers from the oppression of native autocrats. In his visionary book, Africa Unchained: The Blueprint for Africa's Future, Ayittey sends a call for a "Cheetah Generation," of young Africans to become innovative, fast-moving entrepreneurs and take charge of their countries.

    In this video we meet Mugure Mugo of Preciss International, a fast-growing BPO company in Kenya that uses technology to connect Kenyan workers to global businesses. We also meet a local women's group in Western Kenya that uses money its collected from its members to fund local business ventures and provide humanitarian aid. One of many such groups in rural Kenya, this women's group is purely a grassroots effort by the community and operates independently of any aid organization.

    Mugure Mugo suggests:

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Jackson by the water.

NEWS

Jackson in water.

ABOUT THE FILM

GOOD FORTUNE explores how massive, international efforts to alleviate poverty in Africa may be undermining the very communities they aim to benefit. Through intimate portraits of two Kenyans battling to save their homes from large-scale development organizations, the film presents a unique opportunity to experience foreign aid through the eyes of the people it is intended to benefit.

On the outskirts of Nairobi, Silva’s home and business in Africa’s largest squatter community are being demolished as part of a United Nations slum-upgrading project. In the rural countryside, Jackson’s farm is being flooded by an American investor who hopes to alleviate poverty by creating a multi-million dollar rice farm.

Interweaving meditative portraits of its characters, GOOD FORTUNE examines the real-world impact of international aid. With a broad scope and intimate style, the film portrays gripping stories of human perseverance and suggests that the answers for Africa lie in the resilience of its people.

  • JACKSON AND DOMINION FARMS LTD

    Jackson is grazing his cattle through the lush grasses of the Yala swamp. The sun is rising and a pale orange light reflects off of the marsh. As he pushes his herd across a quiet river, Jackson makes a startling discovery. The once fertile wetland has been slashed and burned, leaving only charred papyrus stalks and stagnant pools of water.

    Dominion Farms LTD, an Oklahoma-based agricultural corporation, is clearing the wetland to construct a reservoir to irrigate its massive rice paddies. Dominion CEO Calvin Burgess first came to the area on a mission trip with his church and says the area’s poverty inspired him to invest millions of dollars in a commercial farm to stimulate the local economy.

    But for Jackson’s family, and over 500 families like his, the Dominion project could destroy everything they have. The proposed reservoir will flood over 1100 acres of grazing land, homes, local markets, schools, and clinics. Jackson’s home, where generations of his family were born and buried, will soon be underwater. “Is this development?” Jackson asks, “Or poverty creation?”

    Jackson provides for all 25 members of his family using relatively simple, subsistence-farming methods, but he is anything but simple-minded. He is, in fact, a highly educated individual who volunteers as a local schoolteacher because he feels that the key to improving his community is education. Jackson is also a staunch environmentalist who appreciates the vital importance of the Yala swamp to the local ecology. When Dominion threatens to take control of the area’s greatest natural resource, Jackson prepares to fight.

    He discovers that Dominion is seizing over five times the land granted in their original contract and using harmful chemicals that are poisoning the community’s water supply. The community seeks the help of international NGOs, stages public demonstrations, and petitions the government to intervene. But even after they convince Kenya’s environmental protection agency to issue a cease and desist order, the floodwaters continue to rise.

    “They said it couldn’t be done, but it has been done,” Dominion CEO Calvin Burgess beams into a microphone. The dam is now complete and Dominion is celebrating with great fanfare; they’ve drawn a large crowd, brought in entertainers, fireworks, and rallied local politicians around the $20 million dollar project. One member of Parliament—who happens to be the former director of Dominion—addresses the crowd: “I want to say here and in broad daylight, that anything that will stand in the way of this project shall be met with the resistance and full force that it deserves.”

    A few months later, record rainfalls are pounding the Yala swamp. Dominion’s reservoir rises across the road and spills into Jackson’s homestead. The water submerges Jackson’s property, and their homes begin to collapse. All of Jackson’s goats and sheep are killed, and the cattle begin to experience strange illnesses, dying off one by one. Jackson is forced to rent a small room in a nearby town. “They destroyed everything,” he exclaims.

    But even after the flood, Jackson is not defeated. He helps organize the community to take legal action against Dominion. Whether Jackson will win his battle to save the swamp or be forced to leave his ancestral home remains to be seen.

  • SILVA AND THE UNITED NATIONS

    It’s three in the morning and Silva is hard at work. She snaps a fresh white glove over her left hand and moves with the authority of a woman who has done this hundreds of times. She instructs her assistant to prop the patient up and begins to massage the woman’s swollen stomach. In a few hours, another miracle, another life.

    Silva delivers babies for a living. She does it in her office—which doubles as her kitchen—in Kibera, the largest squatter community in Africa. For Westerners, Kibera is the iconic image of developing-world poverty: congested mud shacks, rivers of raw sewage, children playing in mountains of trash. But for Silva, this is home; this is where she has lived, worked, and raised her children for the last 15 years.

    Like most residents of Kibera, Silva migrated here from a rural area near the Yala Swamp to build a better life for her and her family. The congestion and poor sanitation were startling at first, but Silva soon came to appreciate the advantages of living in such a vibrant community. She was able to open a practice as a midwife and send her kids to respected schools. She even became involved in a grassroots women’s support group to pool resources for local business initiatives.

    But the life Silva has made is about to be swept from under her.

    Silva’s neighborhood will be the first to be demolished as part of an experimental slum-upgrading program by the United Nations and the Kenyan government. The UN says the program will be monumental in reshaping life in the community; they plan to demolish the entire area and build block-style apartment buildings for their inhabitants. But Silva has her doubts. “They say we will be able to come back when the project is finished,” she says, “but I think it’s a lie.” She already knows she won’t be able to afford the rent for the new buildings; the rate estimated by the UN is over four times what she currently pays.

    And Silva has heard these promises before. Her neighborhood is surrounded by relics of failed attempts to upgrade the slum, like the rows of public apartments that sit abandoned and rotting after corrupt politicians embezzled the development funds.

    Ten years ago the government proposed a similar project, demolishing squatter communities and building modern housing with public funds. But when the structures were complete, they were sold off as luxury apartments for the wealthy. “The government claimed they were for the needy,” Silva explains, “but the poor were left with nothing.”

    When the government announced that “Phase II” of the project would take place in Silva’s neighborhood, the community rallied, demonstrated, and ultimately succeeded in stopping the project. A community group is organizing today with similar intentions, and Silva is playing an active role to protect her community. The group is lobbying the UN for more information, but the majority of the community remains in the dark about plans for the future of Kibera.

    The clock is ticking for Silva and her community. She lives her life not knowing when bulldozers will show up at her door or what will happen to her after they do.

Jackson with cows.

FILMMAKERS

  • Landon Van Soest

    LANDON VAN SOEST

    Director/Producer

    Van Soest is director/producer of the award-winning film Walking the Line, a feature documentary about “vigilantes” along the U.S.-Mexico border that has been lauded for excellence in production and advocating human rights. The film has screened at film festivals around the world and received national broadcast in six countries. Van Soest founded Transient Pictures with Jeremy Levine in 2005 and has produced original content for clients such as the Sundance Channel, Working Films, United States Artists and the Dramatists’ Guild. Contracted by Cactus Three, he is producing House of Rath, an independent documentary about an eccentric home designer through the mortgage crisis in New York City. He is also founder of the Brooklyn Filmmakers Collective, a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering a vibrant filmmaking community in Brooklyn, New York. He is currently producing The Legacy Project, a ten-part video series for the Dramatists Guild profiling theater legends like Edward Albee, Arthur Laurents, and Stephen Sondheim.

    Van Soest began his career in New York with Big Mouth Productions during production of the breakout NBC documentary Deadline, Arctic Waltz and Election Day. He gained experience in television documentaries for PBS, National Geographic, and TLC at Engle Brothers Media before going on to work in Original Programming at the Sundance Channel. Van Soest holds a degree in Non-Fiction Film Production from Ithaca College and has completed extensive research on economic development in East Africa with the School for International Training. He was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship in the Creative and Performing Arts to begin production of Good Fortune and has spent over two years living in Kenya and working closely with the film’s subjects.

  • Jeremy Levine

    JEREMY LEVINE

    Producer/Editor

    Levine's work has been screened in dozens of film festivals around the world, broadcast nationally in six countries and recognized with several awards for production and human rights. He partnered with Van Soest as director/producer of Walking the Line and worked as an editor on Everything’s Cool, a feature-length documentary that premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. Levine is also directing/producing the independent television documentary House of Rath about an eccentric housing developer in New York City.

    Levine was drawn to documentary filmmaking as a means to combine his passions for social change and the art of film. In 2006, Levine volunteered at the Educational Media Agency in Addis Ababa where he produced educational videos for Ethiopian schools. He also works closely with Working Films, a non-profit outreach group that links cutting-edge documentary films with activist organizations. He received a degree in Documentary Production from Ithaca College, where his work was nominated for a Student Academy Award. He lives in Brooklyn, NY and founded Transient Pictures and the Brooklyn Filmmakers Collective, a non-profit organization that provides support to independent filmmakers in New York City.

  • BENARD OHANGA

    Line Producer

    Ohanga was born and raised in a small fishing village in western Kenya. He received an advanced degree from the University of Nairobi in Human Resource Management before returning to his hometown to further research and activism within the fishing communities. He is currently an administrator at western Kenya’s Maseno University. Good Fortune is his first film.

  • KATY CHEVIGNY

    Executive Producer

    Katy Chevigny is an award-winning filmmaker who runs the nonprofit media organization Arts Engine Inc. and its production arm, Big Mouth Films, in New York. Her credits include the acclaimed Deadline, an investigation into Illinois Governor George Ryan's commuting of death sentences, which she co-directed with Kirsten Johnson. After premiering at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, the film was broadcast on NBC, was nominated for an Emmy and won the Thurgood Marshall Journalism Award. She also directed the feature-length films "Election Day" (POV, 2008) and "Journey to the West: Chinese Medicine Today." Chevigny has produced five award-winning documentaries: Arctic Son (POV, 2007), "Innocent Until Proven Guilty," "Nuyorican Dream," "Brother Born Again" and "Outside Looking In: Transracial Adoption in America." She is currently in post-production on "The Dishes," the story of a punk rock band that juggles family and careers in Chicago. Through her work at Arts Engine, Chevigny also oversees MediaRights.org and the Media That Matters Film Festival.

  • JUDITH HELFAND

    Executive Producer

    Filmmaker, activist and educator Judith Helfand is best known for her ability to take the dark, cynical worlds of chemical exposure and heedless corporate behavior and make them personal, resonant, highly charged, and entertaining. Her films, "The Uprising of '34" (Co-directed with George Stoney), the Sundance award winning "Blue Vinyl" (for which she and Co-Director Daniel Gold were nominated for two Emmy's), and its Peabody award winning "prequel" "A Healthy Baby Girl" (a five-year "video-diary" about her experience with DES related cancer), explore home, class, corporate accountability, intergenerational relationships and the ever shrinking border between what is "personal" and what is a critical part of the public record. Helfand co-founded Working Films in 1999, a national organization that is a dynamic bridge between high-profile non-fiction filmmaking and cutting edge social change organizing, and more recently launched Chicken & Egg Pictures and Film Fund with partners Julie Parker Benello and Wendy Ettinger. Their goal is to provide small development/we-believe-in-you grants and executive producing services to emerging and veteran women filmmakers producing non-fiction and fiction film projects.

  • ANDREW HERWITZ

    Executive Producer and Sales Rep

    Herwitz is president of The Film Sales Company, the New York based domestic sales agent. The Company specializes in securing domestic and international distribution for finished films as well as financing for English language packaged projects. Among the more notable documentary films the Company has sold are Iraq in Fragments(2007 Academy Award Nominee), Born Into Brothels (2005 Academy Award Winner, Best Documentary), Fahrenheit 9/11 (highest grossing documentary film of all time), My Architect (2004 Academy Award Nominee), Crazy Love, and War Dance (winner of the best director award at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival, ThinkFilm release fall 2007).

  • ALEX STIKITCH

    Cinematographer

    Stikitch has worked professionally as a cinematographer for over 15 years on a wide range of documentary, narrative, and experimental projects. His most recent film, Radiophobia, about the lasting effects of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, won Best Documentary and Best Cinematography at both the European Independent Film Festival and the Brooklyn International Film Festival. Stikich’s work has been screened worldwide in numerous venues including the Sundance Film Festival, the Worldwide Video Festival (Amsterdam), VideoBrasil (Sao Paulo), and The Brooklyn Museum of Art.

Jackson with cows.

HOST A SCREENING

Good Fortune is available for a variety of community screenings, conferences, trainings, forums, student groups, and theatrical screenings. For further information on how to arrange a public screening, please download our event planning toolkit. We have developed a number additional of resources to make it easy for you to host a screening, please choose the option that best fits your needs:

  • Community Screening Kit

    $99  

    This kit is designed to maximize your community screening and ultimately pays for itself! Each kit includes a community-licensed DVD as well as 5 DVDs for you to sell at your event (suggested retail price $20) to offset the cost of the kit. The Community Screening Kit also includes a community discussion guide, supplementary videos profiling alternative approaches to international development, and an electronic poster template (just download, fill in your event info, and print). (Please note that these DVDs are not licensed for school or library use).

  • Free public event rental fee

    $49  

    This package includes a DVD licensed for organizations doing one one free, in-house screening (please note that these DVDs are not licensed for school or library use). To maximize the impact of your screening, we strongly suggest the community screening kit above.

  • Conferences, large public screenings, and paid events

    If you want to hold a screening for more than 150 people, or an event with paid admission, please contact us.

  • Host the Filmmakers

    The filmmakers are available to answer questions at public screenings and guide discussions on international development and producing social issue media. Additional costs may apply, please contact us for more information.

Silva on train.

CONTACT

Transient Pictures

info@goodfortunefilm.com

646-257-2590

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