We are a crew of young italian filmmakers, journalist and anthropologists always on the quest for engaging in little-known/underreported stories to tell!
Qat is a natural amphetamine cultivated in the Horn of Africa. Its leaves are chewed by millions of people around the world, nurturing a business worth billions that connects the Kenyan and Ethiopian highlands to lands as far as the UK, the United States and China.
Labelled as a ‘drug of abuse’ by the World Health Organisation, Qat has been banned in most European countries for charges over funding international terrorism. Nonetheless, the qat trade provides livelihood to millions.
Our story commences in the Kenyan and Ethiopian foothills, wishing to shed light on the role that qat, a little-known, natural amphetamine is currently playing in local as well as global markets. What explains the rise of qat as the the fastest-growing industry in East Africa, stretching from Kenya all the way to the Yemen? And how has this mild drug traditionally confined to the regions where it was grown, turned into a global phenomenon? The cultivation and distribution of Qat is three stories at once: it is about a plant that has been caught between century-old traditions, western policies on drug consumption and charges of funding international terrorism.
The film will guide you through a remarkable journey linked with the trade and consumption of qat: be it by riding dusty pick-up trucks overloaded with qat bundles hurtling at the feet of mount Kenya, or by following the footsteps of young Ethiopian religious leaders performing trance-like rituals at the rhythm of sacred cymbals.
By giving voice to expert psychologists, sociologists and politicians, the film aims to crystallize the controversial nature of this global phenomenon frequently banned for health and social concerns. At the same time, qat is a valuable means to emancipate workers, offering a more profitable and sustainable alternative to the burdens of development strategies imposed from above.
‘Leaves of the Horn’ aims at questioning today’s policies centered around drug consumption, social integration and the global market, as well as challenging key definitions of today such as ‘drug’, ‘terrorism’ and ‘tradition’.
Part 1 of the project has already been completed.
We went on a recce in the Ethiopian city of Harar, where we ended up shooting ‘Merqana’. 'Merqana' is an observational documentary film exploring the local commodity chain of qat in the region, from its nightly harvest to the weekly sufi rituals where local mystics perform trance-like rituals and recreationally chew qat leaves until the crack of dawn.
You can find more info on this film by visiting the website www.leavesofthehorn.com/merqana
Part 2 is about to begin.
The crew will fly to the UK (the only European country where qat is still legal) and the Netherlands (where qat has just been banned). We will meet dozens of experts in the psychology and social dimension of local qat consumption, as well as politicians and community leaders campaigning in favour of, or against a qat ban.
Our goal is to give voice to people from all walks of life, and share their thoughts about this mild stimulant and its role in today’s intrinsically diverse and conflicting societies.
SO...WHAT'S THE NEXT STEP?
Part 3 badly needs your help!!!
The money we are raising will contribute towards the funding of an expedition to Kenya, Djibouti and Yemen, three of the four biggest qat-consuming and qat-producing nations in the world. There, we will focus on exploring the local qat trade by visiting qat plantations, building links with local traders and finding our way through the market.
Moreover, our goal is also to explore the variety of centuries-old traditions connected with the plant. Our aim is to understand the multi-faceted role of this plant in the social life of millions of people around the world.
The money we will raise will contribute to the acquisition of the following:
- audio/video-recording material
- HDD storage devices
- return flights Rome-Nairobi-Djibuti-Sana’a-Rome
- hiring local fixers
- bureaucratic expenses
- travel expenses
THERE ARE MANY WAYS IN WHICH YOU CAN HELP
If you cannot make a financial contribution, it doesn’t mean you can’t help. You can still spread the word about Leaves of the Horn to all of the people you know. Invite people to our website www.leavesofthehorn.com or use Indiegogo's share tools to redirect people here!!!