It begins with a small blond girl picking flowers in the garden of her multimillion pound Cotswold home and ends five minutes later with her running from a scene of such horror it made me feel faint and others physically sick. Not for nothing is the film called Unwatchable.
Depicting the vicious gang rape of a teenage girl on her kitchen table and the gruesome murder of her parents, the film is not a snuff movie but a campaign video made on behalf of . We tend to overuse the word visceral to describe mildly diverting films but I defy anyone not to react to these scenes. Based on a tale of everyday horror in eastern Congo, but transported to the sunny uplands of Chipping Sodbury and set to a stirring movie soundtrack, the film certainly provokes a reaction so great that we have thought twice about sharing the link here with anything other than the strongest content warning, but it raises all sorts of questions about the nature of campaigning and the use of viral media, too.
Did Unwatchable make me want to act to stop this horror? Yes it did.
Will I want to share this clip with friends and colleagues and urge them to get involved? No, I'm afraid I won't.
It's a beautifully shot and carefully controlled film, not immediately available on YouTube and with plentiful adult-only warnings for its viral distribution. Its makers have gone out of their way to prevent it from being shown without the attending campaign material yet it fails to do what such material should: not only raise awareness of the issues but allow you to take positive action and to spread the word.
Its upsetting content means that no large charitable organisation will publicly back its release although there is meant to be a helpline number provided by .
The aim of the film, according to Vava Tampa, director of Save the Congo, is the entirely laudable one of raising awareness about the use of conflict minerals mined in the Congo and used in mobile phones. If you manage to get to the end of the film there are storyboards that spell it out. Rape is used as a tactic of war by militias keen to gain control over valuable minerals such as tungsten, tin and tantalum.
"You have the power," the film intones, "to demand your mobile phone manufacturer stops using blood minerals." It urges us to "find out more, sign the petition, share this film".
The London-based campaign team are to petition the EU for legislation that will regulate the industry, force them to disclose where their raw materials are from and set up an independent audit of their behaviour. Tampa wants a stronger act than the , which was last year but has been found to be too full of loopholes for mobile phone manufacturers to slip through and too subject to the vagaries of a malfunctioning administration. Save the Congo wants companies named and shamed and for non-governmental organisations to act as observers to report abuses.
But why employ directors, musicians and production teams who have previously worked on big Hollywood movies such as Quantum of Solace, Independence Day and Iron Man? Written and directed by , a campaigning production company, the film was made by a team that included and , who jointly donated over £400,000 worth of their time.
In an interview ahead of last night's screening, Tampa said: "We live in a world in which things have to look like an action movie for us to react. We have become desensitised and have to see houses crumbling like in Haiti."
There will be some who will object to the transfer of a tale of everyday horror in the eastern Congo to Chipping Sodbury. Does the family in the film – with the teenage girl played by a Cambridge student rather than a professional actor – have to be beautiful and blond for us to empathise? Transferring action from far away to our living rooms is an effective tool, but isn't that what Comic Relief does to such effect each year?
The makers of the film were aware of the sensational nature of what they were doing. In a , Jon Bains, who masterminded the marketing of the film, asked his friends whether the film's depiction of "weaponised rape" crossed the line. One replies: "People tune into Comic Relief for the funny stuff and make tea when the images of starving children take over the screen … unless you force it, ram it, into people's lives there will never be the reaction necessary to provoke the awareness that true change needs."
Yet the most effective films aren't the ones that are the most shocking. Think of , the Richard Curtis short film for the 10:10 climate campaign, which was withdrawn by the campaign group less than 24 hours later after reaction to schoolchildren being blown up for failing to support climate change. The spoof failed as no one wanted to share it and not everyone found it funny.
Compare that with Daniel Craig cross-dressing to support , the equality campaigners on International Women's Day and watched almost 100,000 times on YouTube.
After watching Unwatchable, I will sign the petition to make mobile phone manufacturers more transparent about their raw materials and I urge you to do so too. But watch the film? Isn't it enough to realise that during its transmission five men, women and children were raped in the Congo?
• Please be aware that the film in the following link to the Unwatchable campaign website contains highly graphic scenes of sexual violence: