SUPPLY CHAIN explores cryptocurrency through the lens of mining and natural resource extraction.
In essayistic style, the film discusses the footnotes of mining history that have led us to digital mining. Geologists explain how conflict minerals have formed and how they make their way into electronics. We look at how mining tools evolved during the California Gold Rush and see direct correlations to Bitcoin mining computers. We also explore the idea of “the treasure impulse” throughout media – from hundreds of video games like Boulder Dash (1973) to the Sony Playstation II, which sparked a war over mineral resources in the Congo in the late 1990’s.
The film begins by showing the day-to-day lives of cryptocurrency miners from America, China and Iceland. We compare their tools and trades to historical mining booms and resource extraction in the natural world. As it turns out, technological innovation has always been reliant on geological innovation.
But just like the Gold Rush of 1849, there will be winners and losers.
SUPPLY CHAIN reveals issues of energy consumption and resource ownership behind the digital gold rush. The film artfully addresses the larger questions of sustainability through rare footage of the data-mining supply chains and perspectives from leading technologists, historians and anthropologists.
“Our treasure impulse has led us to use computational technologies to mine wealth. Yet even in the realm of virtual currency there are
very palpable material needs that we cannot afford to ignore.”
– Saleem H. Ali, Author
Treasures of the Earth: Need, Greed and a Sustainable Future
DIRECTOR, PRODUCER, WRITER, EDITOR
Alex Tyson is an American filmmaker and artist known for his films Mountain Fire Personnel (2015), Divieto 2 (2018) and his work on the Oscar nominated and Emmy winning documentary Gasland(2011, HBO) for which he won a Cinema Eye Honor. He has worked as a cinematographer in Brazil, China, Italy, The South Pacific, Scandinavia and extensively throughout the USA. His first documentary was awarded the Prix du Jury La Mobilière at Visions du Réel (2015) and screened at MoMA Documentary Fortnight (2016). He most recently contributed special photography to National Geographic's 2017 Emmy-winning documentary LA92. His film Divieto 2 will premiere at The Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Art of The Real festival in 2018. Supply Chain will be his directorial debut for a feature film.
Maya E. Rudolph is a producer of nonfiction films and series. Her recent credits include the 7-episode VICE China series Future Homes; a 2019 four-part Netflix documentary series and the feature documentary SHIRKERS (dir. Sandi Tan), which was awarded the Directing Prize for World Cinema Documentary at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. As a post supervisor, she has overseen editorial workflow, technical finishing, and distribution on films and series for studios such as A24, Vice, IFC, and Netflix. She is based in Los Angeles and Beijing and speaks and reads fluent Mandarin.
Dr. Saleem H. Ali is a leading academic focusing on sustainability and mineral extraction. He was recently named to the United Nations International Resource Panel, a select group of 38 scientists and practitioners worldwide chosen to advise the UN system on resource management issues. He is currently the Blue and Gold Distinguished Professor of Energy and the Environment at the University of Delaware and has held the Chair in Sustainable Resources Development at the University of Queensland, Australia. Ali was chosen as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2011 and received an Emerging Explorer award from the National Geographic Society in 2010. He is the author of 3 books and over a hundred peer-reviewed publications. His research focuses on environmental conflicts in the extractive industries and how ecological cooperation can promote peace in international relations.
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We are currently seeking co-production support from platforms, institutions and foundations. Your info will be kept confidential. Direct contact: alextyson @ gmail.com