Eh, so the holidays are over and the long, hard winter really kicks in. And there I was, months away from POV’s next doc slate, looking for something to inspire me… And just when the dust bunnies began to blow like tumbleweed in my apartment, I saw something that really moved me. I was working out at the gym, and the flat screen tv was turned to a BBC World documentary about child slavery. And I was floored.
This World: Child Slavery with Rageh Omaar is a heart-breaking portrait of a series of children from different parts of the world who are forced into labor. It’s expertly shot and the access is disturbingly intimate — we see a 12-year-old African boy sold by his mother for about $50, and his introduction to his “master.” It was sickening and painful to watch, but I couldn’t tear my eyes away.
Rageh OmaarI was really intrigued by Omaar, who related his own personal history as a Somali/British filmmaker, connecting his roots to that of a boy herding goats in Somalia. I looked up Omaar and saw that he’s a pretty big deal in the UK, having been a frontline reporter for the BBC in Iraq for many years. (The Washington Post apparently called him the “Scud Stud.”)
He then left the BBC — which he called “a white man’s club” —; and now works for Al Jazeera and writes for The New Statesman. He made a film for Al Jazeera celebrating the strengths of Iran. I don’t know about the rest of his work, but the child slavery doc makes me an intrigued, if tentative, fan. I wonder if Omaar will ever make it to our shores with his provocative filmmaking. For now, interestingly, he’s hardly made a dent over here in the States.

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Tom Roston
Tom Roston is a guest columnist for POV's documentary blog. He is a former Premiere magazine senior editor, who graduated from Brown University and started his career in journalism at The Nation and then Vanity Fair. Tom's freelance work has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Los Angeles Times, The Hollywood Reporter and other publications. He has written several Kindle Singles, including the bestselling Kindle Singles Interview: Ken Burns. Tom's current list of favorite documentaries are: 1. Koyanisqaatsi by Godfrey Reggio; 2. Hoop Dreams by Steve James; 3.Stories We Tell by Sarah Polley; 4.Crumb by Terry Zwigoff; 5. Montage of Heck by Brett Morgen