The Rescue List
Lake Volta in Ghana is the largest man-made lake in the world; it is also notorious as a locale for forced child labor. Bay Area filmmakers Zachary Fink and Alyssa Fedele’s beautifully shot documentary charts the courageous efforts of a local safe house to rescue the kids, give them schooling and therapy, and prepare them for reintegration into their families. Though it contains many intimate and moving moments with the children, the star of the film is real life hero Kwame, who initiates several dramatic rescues.
The heart, bravery and political will behind the project is, of course, never in question. But what makes this film so powerful is craft. The cinematography — artfully selected overheads that introduce the lake and the likely by-necessity trailing camera that documents the rescue missions — gives context and demonstrates courage. The patient editing pace that allows the camera to rest on faces reinforces the power of emotion at the rehabilitation center. The agile score gently cues alternately eerie and uplifting moods. Among the rescuers, the rescued, the families, and the fisherman, there are heroes and villains to be sure. But as we watch Kwame scooping up enslaved children from Lake Volta and negotiating freedom with their captors, we see this film’s greatest strength is the way it sets aside blame in favor of navigating a way forward.
This title is a part of SFFILM’s Launch Initiative, having its World Premiere for the film industry along with the Festival’s discerning audiences.
Alyssa Fedele and Zachary Fink are documentary filmmakers and anthropologists based in San Francisco. They produced, shot, and edited, The Ride of Their Lives, directed by Steve James, which premiered at Sundance 2016 and is distributed by Amazon in the series The New Yorker Presents. Their work has appeared on National Geographic Channel, HBO, PBS, Discovery Channel, Amazon Studios, and The Harvard Film Study Center. Alyssa has a master’s degree in visual anthropology from the University of Manchester. Zachary has a master’s degree in cultural anthropology and an MFA from California Institute of the Arts. Alyssa and Zachary were residents of SFFILM’s FilmHouse from 2016 to 2017. Together, they run the film production company Collective Hunch.
Language Twi, Ewe, Fante, Effutu, Ada, English
Director Alyssa Fedele, Zachary Fink
Producer Alyssa Fedele, Zachary Fink, Davis Coombe
Editor Alyssa Fedele, Davis Coombe
Cinematographer Zachary Fink
Music William Ryan Fritch