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Category Archives: Textile Industry

Made in Bangladesh

2019 ‧ Drama ‧ 1h 30m

Made in Bangladesh is a 2019 Bangladeshi drama film directed by Rubaiyat Hossain. It was screened in the Contemporary World Cinema section at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival.

Initial release: September 6, 2019
Director: Rubaiyat Hossain
Language: Bengali language

‘Made in Bangladesh’: Film Review | TIFF 2019

Notes by Steve Cook, President, Washington Baltimore News Guild; cookstevend@gmail.com
Tells the story of a garment worker who decides to organize her coworkers into a union after a fire kills her best friend. The young woman, Shimu, has to overcome skepticism from her coworkers, resistance from her husband, double-crossing from a coworker, pressure from her bosses, bureaucratic inertia from the government, and a host of obstacles like we all face.
I want everyone in my shop and other open shops to see this movie. It really lays out what we all face in organizing, but the stakes are clear as day in a way that it often is difficult to communicate to our units. It would be great if it were available in DVDs, so locals could show it, or people could share it in their homes, or pass it around.
The film also highlights the universal struggles unions face anywhere in the world. The things I described above are things we face in our own organizing efforts. I also took away a message of solidarity with working people regardless of their nationality, geographic location, gender, or ethnicity. Their struggle is our struggle. These are messages that people must hear again and again. Cameron Bailey, the TIFF artistic director called Shimu, “the Norma Rae we need now.”
This movie has distribution in France starting Dec. 5 though an outfit called Pyramide International, which TIFF lists as the international sale agent. As far as I know, no one has picked it up in North America. I think it would be ideal for the DC Labor Filmfest, but also would be great if it could get exposure in North America in the meantime. If you have connections in the distribution industry, perhaps you could spread awareness of the movie among them.
The contact information for Pyramide in the TIFF book are sales@pyramidefilms.com, and 0033142960220.
I also am including some links that give you a fuller idea of what Made in Bangladesh is about. I hope I’ve given enough description of how important I think this movie is. Please feel free to contact me for a fuller description or for any way that I may be able to help.
Steve Cook, President, Washington Baltimore News Guild; cookstevend@gmail.com

https://www.tiff.net/events/made-in-bangladesh

Q&A following the TIFF screening.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPNS4XEoZRU

Pyramide International
http://inter.pyramidefilms.com/pyramidefilms-international-catalogue/made-in-bangladesh.html

 

Machines (2016)

India, Germany, Finland (Director: Rahul Jain) — This intimate, observant portrayal of the rhythm of life and work in a gigantic textile factory in Gujarat, India, moves through the corridors and bowels of the enormously disorienting structure—taking the viewer on a journey of dehumanizing physical labor and intense hardship.

Daunting descent to the underworld of a textile factory in Gujarat, in North-western India, where the cheap clothes for the first world are made. This factory represents many more from Western India, where the scenary and the conditions are like the ones we see here. Claustrophobic, hermetic, unhealthy, dark spaces, with the air saturated of toxic smoke emanated from dye chemicals. Tied to looms, sleepy teenagers, youths and mature men work twelve hours a day for starvation wages: many of them go into debt in order to pay the train ticket to travel from rural areas to the urban factories. The brutal working conditions dehumanize the workers, to the point of turning them into appendixes of machines. Landless peasants join the files of workers without rights nor holydays. Few well selected interviews to workers convey what happens here: employers oppression without any constraint from the State, lack of trade-union reply due to the killing of their leaders, no viable alternative to survive out of the factory.

Relevance: With an excellent cinematography (it gained the Price of the best documentary photography in Sundance), the film transfers a feeling of anguish without loosing artistic dignity. We roam labyrinthic corridors and stagnant rooms, and we absorb the rhythm of production through the monotonous noises from the machines. This great debut of Rahul Jain give voice and faces to some of the more sorely afflicted slaves in the twenty-first century.
Note courtesy Docs and the World

 

Living Wage Now

32.51 minutes

People in the West hear of the conditions endured by garment workers making clothes in Asian factories, but they rarely see them. A short documentary by the Asia Floor Wage Alliance (AFWA), a group of trade unions and labor rights activists, offers a glimpse of people at work in India, Cambodia, and Indonesia. It includes footage from factories, which aren’t necessarily tiny, claustrophobic rooms with decrepit walls and little light. The most startling conditions are where the workers live. Some live in homes that are little more than a single, bare room with no toilet or running water.
Read more

See the whole film here: https://youtu.be/PxFwA-jw3X4

Trailer: https://youtu.be/zsR87lFmE6Y

 

COTTON ROAD (2014)


Directed by Laura Kissell
72 min  |  Documentary, News  |  5 April 2014 (USA)
AMERICANS CONSUME NEARLY 20 BILLION NEW ITEMS OF CLOTHING EACH YEAR. YET FEW OF US KNOW HOW OUR CLOTHES ARE MADE, MUCH LESS WHO PRODUCES THEM. COTTON ROAD FOLLOWS THE COMMODITY OF COTTON FROM SOUTH CAROLINA FARMS TO CHINESE FACTORIES TO ILLUMINATE THE WORK AND INDUSTRIAL PROCESSES IN A GLOBAL SUPPLY CHAIN.

What does a rural town in South Carolina have to do with China? Americans consume nearly twenty billion new items of clothing each year, and at least one billion of them are made in China. Cotton Road uncovers the transnational movement of cotton and tells the stories of worker’s lives in a conventional cotton supply chain. From rural farms in South Carolina to factory cities in China, we span the globe to encounter the industrial processes behind our rapacious consumption of cheap clothing and textile products. Are we connected to one another through the things we consume? Cotton Road explores a contemporary landscape of globalized labor through human stories and provides an opportunity to reflect on the ways our consumption impacts others and drives a global economy.

 

Sunder Nagri (Beautiful City) (2003)

Director: Rahul Roy
English (subtitled), 78 min, 2003, India
http://magiclanternmovies.in/film/city-beautiful

Sunder Nagri (Beautiful City) is a small working class colony on the margins of India’s capital city, Delhi. Most families residing here come from a community of weavers. The last ten years have seen a gradual disintegration of the handloom tradition of this community under the globalisation regime. The families have to cope with change as well as reinvent themselves to eke out a living.

Radha and Bal Krishan are at a critical point in their relationship. Bal Krishan is underemployed and constantly cheated. They are in disagreement about Radha going out to work. However, through all their ups and downs they retain the ability to laugh.Shakuntla and Hira Lal hardly communicate. They live under one roof with their children but are locked in their own sense of personal tragedies.

Producer: Rahul Roy
Creative Crew
Camera: Rahul Roy
Editing: Reena Mohan
Sound: Asheesh Pandya

Rahul is a noted documentary filmmaker who has widely worked on the issues of labor and gender in India. His film The City Beautiful masterfully depicts the life of two families in an Indian working-class colony, focussing on the decline of traditional handloom industry because of globalization. His recent work The Factory (2015) is about the struggle of Maruti automobile workers in New Delhi. For more than two years, 147 workers from the Maruti Suzuki plant were kept behind bars without bail or any charge sheet being presented to the defence counsel. Rahul has followed their crisis and struggle from 2013 to 2015. Read more about the film in this Indian Express piece.

Director contact info: rahulroy63@gmail.com

 

Traceable (2014)

http://raindancefestival.org/features-2014/traceable/

This documentary examines the fashion industry process, and its conscience, from a designers’ perspective.

This environmental documentary has a powerful ethical story to tell and makes even the most exhausted eye-rollers sit up and listen.

The 2013 collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh put faces on the term ‘garment factory workers’. With this as a backdrop, ‘Traceable’ looks at the local communities behind clothing industries that have retained distinctive crafts for generations. ‘Traceability’ is the aim to have a proper trail for every single step in the supply chain. As well as where, it wants consumers to be concerned with how garments are made. Thousands of hands in the process go untraceable because many farmers, seamstresses and printers simply do not have the technology to be contacted by email or phone.

Director Jennifer Sharpe follows Laura Seigel, a young designer fighting to connect the design world with anonymous artisans. Most designers do not have the time or enough commitment to nurture a direct relationship with the people who make their clothes. This documentary is partly anthropological, as Seigel designs with the creators hand-to-hand and negotiates with them on their own turf. Without being patronising or naive, ‘Traceable’ captures equal and harmonious working partnerships.

 

Labour in a Single Shot

http://www.labour-in-a-single-shot.net

Starting in 2011 artist, curator, and author Antje Ehmann and filmmaker, video artist and author Harun Farocki initiated video production workshops in 15 cities around the world in which participants were to engage with the subject of ‘labour’: paid and unpaid, material and immaterial, traditional or new. The videos could not be longer than two minutes and they had to be taken in a single shot. The camera could be static, panning or travelling but cuts were not allowed. This concept references the Brother Lumière’s famous film Workers Leaving the Factory which was filmed in one continuous take from a fixed camera position.

The result of these workshops, which were organised together with local branches of the Goethe-Institut, are 400 films which show people engaged in all kinds of work, each film taking a different stance, literally and figuratively, towards its subject while also recording the diverse mental attitudes and bodily relation people have to their work.

Facing the challenge of filming something that might be essentially repetitive, continuous and boring, the films also foreground the work of the camera operator and his or her aesthetic decisions. In the multitude and diversity the films form a visual compendium and an archive of labour and cinema in the 21st century that is never boring or repetitive but enhances and simultaneously questions our perception and understanding of work.

All the films can be watched on a dedicated website, at random, or sorted by city, colour or type of work. A selection of 90 films was shown as an installation at the House of World Culture in Berlin from 27 February to 6 April 2015 with an accompanying conference. This exhibition also presented the project ‘Workers Leaving the Factory in 15 Cities’ (2011 – 2014), consisting of contemporary remakes of the famous film by the Lumière Brothers which were shot in 15 cities all over the world. Also included in the exhibition was the installation ‘Workers Leaving the Factory in Eleven Decades’ (2006), which showed scenes of workers leaving the factory throughout the history of cinema, from the Lumière Brothers (1895) to Lars van Trier’s Dancer in the Dark (2000).

‘Labour in a Single Shot’ is a co-production of the Harun Farocki Filmproduktion with the Goethe-Institut.

www.harunfarocki.de