Delta Boys on wide online release


American filmmaker Andrew Berends’ documentary about the exploitation and militancy in the oil-rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria, Delta Boys, will be available from 15 January on Netflix, Hulu and SnagFilms.

Delta Boys, which had its world premiere in May this year at the IFC Center’s Stranger Than Fiction film programme in New York, received funding and support from the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Fund, The Gucci Tribeca Documentary Film Fund and Cinereach. Berends also used a Kickstarter campaign through the Sundance Institute Artist Services programme to offset post-production costs for the film.

In Delta Boys, Berends crosses the lines of Nigeria’s oil conflict to bear witness to the lives of the militants engaged in the struggle, and the civilians caught in the crossfire. With breathtaking cinematography, the film offers a never-before-seen glimpse of life in the volatile Niger Delta.

Delta Boys explores the lives of militant “Godfather’ Ateke Tom, who rules over his rebel camp with an iron fist, and Chima, a 21-year-old who left his home to join the fight. The film also shows life in a tiny fishing village where Mama, a 22-year-old, struggles to give birth amidst the conflict with no access to modern medical care. These personal stories reflect a broad global struggle between entrenched power and corporate interest and an underserved population. Despite the region’s massive oil wealth, the inhabitants of the Niger Delta live in poverty. Ateke’s militants have called for greater distribution of wealth and jobs. When their requests were ignored, they attacked oil-pipelines, kidnapped foreigners, and made the entire Delta a no-go zone. But many feel that while the Niger Delta cause is just, the militants’ motives are not so pure.

While other journalists had visited Ateke Tom’s camp before, Berends was the first to have unprecedented access by living extensively amongst the rebels and sharing the same conditions, knowing he might put himself in harm’s way.

“I had seen some footage of the Niger Delta militants, found it visually exciting and felt I could handle that level of risk, so I researched the story and realised it was very important,’ says Berends. “It’s about the environment and the world’s unquenchable thirst for cheap oil.’

In 2008 while making DELTA BOYS, Berends, along with his Nigerian translator, was arrested and falsely accused of espionage while filming at the bustling Nembe waterside in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Berends was detained for 10 days and expelled from the country by the Nigerian government in a bid to suppress media coverage of the Niger Delta conflict.

“It is unacceptable for any nonfiction filmmaker or journalist to be treated in this manner. They must be able to return to their own country without fear of arrest or fear that their work will be seized, solely because they are investigating or chronicling subject matter that may be sensitive or controversial,’ comments Berends. “It is also important that translators and local journalists around the world know they can do their jobs without fear for their lives, their freedom and their families.’

The Delta Boys trailer can be seen at It is also available for purchase on Amazon.


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