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.
Category Archives: Textile Industry
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.
Director: Rahul Roy
English (subtitled), 78 min, 2003, India
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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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).
The project is currently on view at the Venice Biennale, where it can be seen until 22 November 2015. Past presentations took place at the Boston Center for the Arts and the Sherman Gallery at Boston University between September and December 2014.
‘Labour in a Single Shot’ is a co-production of the Harun Farocki Filmproduktion with the Goethe-Institut.
The Lawrence Textile Strike was a strike of immigrant workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts in 1912 led by the Industrial Workers of the World. Prompted by one mill owner’s decision to lower wages when a new law shortening the workweek went into effect in January, the strike spread rapidly through the town, growing to more than twenty thousand workers at nearly every mill within a week. The strike, which lasted more than two months and which defied the assumptions of conservative trade unions within the American Federation of Labor that immigrant, largely female and ethnically divided workers could not be organized, was successful; within a year, however, the union had largely collapsed and most of the gains achieved by the workers were lost.