The opening of Stuart Harmon’s documentary The Money Stone, a moniker for the gold found underneath the soil of Ghana, implies a different film than what it ends up being. Shot from a GoPro-esque perspective, the miners of Ghana leap and maneuver their way through every dark crevice to find the golden source that equates to the mighty bill.
But for this film, which received its world premiere this week at Austin Film Festival, Harmon’s eye is a broader one that cares more for what this drive means to the people of Ghana than for the drive itself.
The principal characters – Justice, James, and Max – all represent a shade of ambition that’s rooted in their social upbringing. For them, there are two ways of life: mining or school. The former is a path for several, including Justice, providing a get-rich-quick mentality that is plagued with legal repercussions and major health risks. James, an intuitive, mature adult, is an advocate for the academic world, trying to convince children like Max that this is the option you must choose for the long run, no matter the circumstances. Harmon has uncovered an absorbing experience that allows personal will to triumph over an environment that belittles it.
Austin Film Festival runs Oct. 25 - Nov. 1. Tickets and info at austinfilmfestival.com.
Find more of our AFF coverage, including news, reviews, and interviews, at austinchronicle.com/AFF.
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