In November 2006 Beijing cemented its long-term relationship with Africa by hosting a summit of 48 African heads of state. President Hu Jintao proudly declared that, "China will remain a close friend, reliable partner and good brother of Africa."
Meanwhile, the western media became gripped by a frisson of 'yellow-peril' paranoia and articles of China's 'take-away' of Africa and 'neo-colonial' rise appeared everywhere. The only China-Africa narrative that was being told again and again was China's unstoppable quest for resources and support for the governments of Zimbabwe and Sudan.
These stories rarely gave voice to the millions of ordinary Chinese and African people who were working at the frontier of this relationship.
We wanted to tell the China-Africa story in microcosm from the perspective of three characters that were living out the daily reality of this paradigm.
It was important that the film had no commentary because we wanted audiences to have the opportunity to interpret this story for themselves. This would be the first time that Western audiences would see the grassroots interaction of China and Africa in this way.
This was about creating an observational portrait of a critical moment in time, which will be looked back on as the biggest geo-political shift of our age.