Chosen by Ai Weiwei as a companion piece to his “Trace” exhibit at the Hirshhorn, is a documentary about workers’ rights in China. Shot over six years, the film depicts labor activists striving to better the lives of the country’s workers — their aims do not go over well, as they are threatened and attacked on a regular basis.
Category Archives: Immigrants/Immigration
96 min/Broomfi eld/UK/2006
Broomfield’s fictional feature film, Ghosts (2006), is based on interviews and articles gathered by the journalist Hsai-Hung Pai during her investigation into the 2004 Morecambe Bay cockling tragedy. Twenty-three undocumented migrant workers from China, all unfamiliar with the geography, language and customs of the area, were drowned after being caught out by incoming tides on the extensive mud flats of Morcambe Bay. Their deaths are dramatised in Ghosts which, whilst focusing on a single doomed work crew, is the story of workers who, in desperate need to support their families in China, resort to illegal immigration to countries such as the UK where they became part of the significant number of foreign-born precariat under-class workers. Th e cockle gatherers are representative of a signifi cant class of modern slavery, being bound to criminal gang bosses by a debt servitude that leaves them unable to escape their dangerous jobs. Broomfield deftly dramatises the process in which a Chinese worker pays smugglers a significant sum of money, before taking terrible risks (such as being transported by container), in order to enter the British workforce, where they are subsequently crowded into tiny cottages and treated akin to slaves before being sent out to work in conditions and environments that are dangerous and unsupervised.
(London Labour Film festival 2017)
(Chris Weitz, US 2011, 98 min., 35mm)
Set in contemporary East Los Angeles the film, whose plot partially parallels that of Bicycle Thief, sympathetically depicts experiences of undocumented Mexican immigrants including manual labor, schools, gangs, family, ICE and deportation. Mexican-American actor Demián Bichir received an Oscar nomination for his moving portrayal of a father who risks everything to make una vida mejor for his son.
Directed by: Fernando González Mitjáns
Running Time: 25 min
Synopsis: Before professors and students arrive for their morning classes at some of London’s most prestigious universities, these are the people who are finishing work. Fleeing the social and political instability of their home countries, many Latin Americans come to London looking for work opportunities and a safe environment to raise and educate their children. In turn, they are confronted with discrimination, labour exploitation and social “invisibility”. Outsourced as cleaning staff, Latin American immigrants have suffered for years in the hands of profit-led outsourcing businesses.
Directed by: Ricardo E. Causo
Running Time: 27 min
Synopsis: Roberto Marquez is an artisan from Ecuador, who immigrated to the United States over 14 years ago. He has been living and working in New York City as a shoe cobbler, and is an undocumented immigrant. In 2013, Roberto, and his wife Maria, welcomed a baby girl into their family. A first-generation American Citizen. Roberto struggles to support his family, here and abroad. In spite of the odds they are up against, he reflects on his own life, and the future he wants for his family
Directed by: Marc Silver
Running Time: 1hr 25 min
Synopsis: An anonymous body in the Arizona desert sparks the beginning of a real-life human drama. The search for identity leads us back across a continent to seek out the people left behind and the meaning of a mysterious tattoo.