Dukale’s Dream documents Hugh Jackman’s journey to Ethiopia in order to learn more about the birthplace of coffee, immerse himself in the rigorous process of coffee farming, and be inspired to make a change revolving around fair-trade products. The film has become a passion project for director Josh Rothstein, who spoke with us following the release of his film on July 14, 2015, as well as learning he had much in common with Jackman regarding human rights issues.
“I met Hugh Jackman in 2009 when he was preparing to host the Oscars and I was doing a short promotional documentary on his preparation process,” explains Rothstein. “At that time I was just finishing up a film called 3 Points which was about Darfur refugees. So [Hugh and I] began discussing our shared interest in human rights and social justice issues and things of that nature. Hugh, as a long-time ambassador for World Vision was travelling to Ethiopia to gain a better understanding of development, and asked me to come along. I was going to document Hugh’s experience in a very limited capacity, initially. But then it grew and grew.”
Rothstein explains that while he has previously made films about human rights and about the plight of humanity, he was not involved with World Vision before Dukale’s Dream. After becoming comfortable working with one another during the Oscars, Jackman referred Rothstein to the organization for this project.
When asked about the far-reaching impact of this documentary, he says that “to have that firsthand experience puts a face to a product in many ways.” When interacting with the product and the process on such a personal level, it is difficult to not be affected and inspired. He explains that Jackman’s own experience mirrors this, and “he came away [from the experience] thinking, ‘There is something that I need to do’.”
Hugh and I began discussing our shared interest in human rights and social justice issues and things of that nature. Hugh, as a long-time ambassador for World Vision was travelling to Ethiopia to gain a better understanding of development, and asked me to come along. I was going to document Hugh’s experience in a very limited capacity, initially. But then it grew and grew.
He goes on to say that the idea of a cup of coffee – a product with which many of us interact in our everyday lives – is an exciting concept “once you start to understand the benefits for farming families and the environment.” For people living in the Western world, it is intriguing to see that one can be doing something in such a passive way while having such an impact. Rothstein explains that “coffee is an opportunity – it is a vehicle, just as many other products, through which to make a decision in your everyday lifestyle, and to make a more ethical and responsible choice.”
The main goal of Dukale’s Dream is to spread awareness. “The idea is that you don’t have to travel to Africa to connect with another human being,” says Rothstein. “I think that coffee is a type of gateway – a lens through which [one can] discover this connection that we all have.”
While there is a lot of privilege and freedom associated with living in the digital age, there is also a sense of responsibility. “Part of the reality of living in the digital age is that we all have an opportunity to consider how we can be impacting the planet,” he explains. With so much knowledge at our fingertips, it is only natural that one’s curiosity should lead to discovering more about our potential impact on the environment. Rothstein hopes that this documentary, by introducing a level of awareness about fair trade, “shines a light on certain levels of awareness for viewers to consider the idea of conscientious consumerism.”
However, while he wanted to spread awareness, he was careful to strike a certain tone in the film – “it is neither too academic nor too preachy.” Instead, it focuses on Jackman’s personal experience and realization, and aims to inspire viewers from this account.
The idea is that you don’t have to travel to Africa to connect with another human being, says Rothstein. I think that coffee is a type of gateway – a lens through which [one can] discover this connection that we all have.
Rothstein has been working as a filmmaker and photographer for years, and has directed in various genres. When asked about his stylistic choices as a director in relation to the documentary format as opposed to other commercial formats such as music videos, he says that the former is often kept more simplistic rather than experimental. “In long-form storytelling,” he explains, “I am conscious of choosing an approach that I feel comfortable sticking with for potentially years to come. When you start these projects, you can start with a certain approach and feel pigeonholed to a certain concept. I’m conscious, in a documentary film about human rights, about not wanting to bring too much style.” Instead, he aims to be very clear and consistent throughout.
“I think with music videos or other commercial work, you can take more chances, whether it’s with textures or approaches to the camera work that will work well in a short-format piece. In a long-form piece it’s important to be consistent so that there is a sense of continuity,” he explains. Since Dukale’s Dream was shot over the course of years, this consistency was important to create a style that flows throughout the film, making sure to avoid any jarring differences.
Dukale’s Dream is now available through Itunes Canada. If you would like more information about the film or about how to make a difference, you can visit dukalesdream.com. The team encourages viewers to inform themselves and make a change by choosing fair trade coffee. Rothstein and the people behind the film also encourage people to visit local fair-trade coffee shops and use the hashtag #dukalesdream to share photos, so as to continue spreading awareness about this important issue.