“Blood Diamond,” Ed Zwick‘s film about the illegitimate diamond trade in ’90s war-torn Sierra Leone – starring Oscar nominees Leonardo DiCaprio and Djimon Hounsou and Oscar-winner Jennifer Connelly – is getting more free publicity than Warner Bros could have dreamed of.
With the film not yet screened for press, the studio’s PR department is sitting back and reveling in the daily flurry of diamond news and headlines building the buzz for "Blood," set for release December 15.
Now even the US Government is helping promote the film.
After reviewing the problem of conflict stones entering the U.S. market, the Government Accounting Office (GAO) has recommended that the diamond industry and the U.S. government do more to stop these illicit gems from entering the U.S. marketplace.
The GAO report, released last week, acknowledges that the legitimate trade of rough diamonds can help African economies, but it adds that rough diamonds – which fueled severe conflicts in Liberia, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola during the 1990s – remain a major cause for concern.
"Although many of these conflicts have now ended and the international community has taken steps to gain control of the rough diamond trade, the United Nations (UN) and other sources report that illicit trading of rough diamonds still exists and could potentially finance civil conflicts as well as criminal and terrorist activities," the GAO report states.
Even the Department of Homeland Security is getting into the act.
According to a Reuters report, the department released a response to the GAO report, pledging to work with the State Department to record detailed information about diamonds entering this country, as well as conducting periodic random examinations of diamond shipments.
Duh. About frigging time. Doesn’t it seem like inspecting rough and/or polished diamond shipments will do more to stop global terrorist networks than banning lip gloss and hair gel on airplanes?
After the GAO report was issued, Global Witness, which has long reported that the diamond trade is still funding civil wars and that al-Qaida uses diamonds to fund their terrorist activities, released a joint statement with Partnership Africa Canada calling for the U.S. to take swift action on the report’s recommendations. It’s worth noting that both organizations were nominated for a joint Nobel Peace Prize for their work to expose the “conflict diamond” trade.
In response to the GAO report, the World Diamond Council has promised to work with the U.S. to improve inspection of rough diamond imports and exports. No, really. They’ve promised.
But U.S. consumers should be forgiven if they find these promises hard to believe. Especially after reading the diamond industry’s Web site – part of a new multi-million PR campaign – insists the problem of “conflict stones” portrayed in “Blood Diamond” is ancient history – all fixed, nothing to worry about, end of story.
Meanwhile, a WB rep says "Blood" will be ready for press screenings in a few weeks. Then the real onslaught of awards buzz should begin.
Photo Credits: Leo and Djimon in an action scene from Warner Bros’ prescient new film, "Blood Diamond," which, thanks to a just released U.S. government report, may be the easiest film to promote in recent Hollywood history.
Jaap Buitendijk / Warner Bros. Pictures