Everyday some 20,000 people in Chittagong, a small port city of Bangladesh risk their lives for 2$US. They dismantle old ships retired from all over the world. An average of 20 workers dies...
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Everyday some 20,000 people in Chittagong, a small port city of Bangladesh risk their lives for 2$US. They dismantle old ships retired from all over the world. An average of 20 workers dies in Chittagong every year. Despite the harsh working environment full of contaminants and toxic gases, the ships are gifts from God. A 21 year old Belal who left home 10 years ago, a Gascutter Rufik who has devoted all his 32 years in the shipbreaking-yards and a 12 year young child laborer Ekramul tell a heart-breaking story of their lives with breathtaking views of the ship-breaking yards. Written by
A Beautiful Film about Forgotten People in One of the World's Poorest Countries
Iron Crows is one of those films that make you count your blessings. Middle Class Americans like those watching this film at the SXSW Film Festival while sipping a cold beer and eating nachos in an air conditioned theater have a hard time imagining the working conditions portrayed in a film like Iron Crows. Iron Crows shows you the people near the very bottom of capitalism's food chain in Chittagong, Bangladesh where workers dissemble and recycle massive freighters and oil tankers that have outlived their usefulness. These poor uneducated workers get paid a pittance to perform the dangerous tasks of deconstructing the ships that once sailed the seas of the world delivering the goods produced by the international economy to ports of call that these individuals will never see and probably can't even imagine. Many of these mostly unskilled workers pull the wire and cable out of these ships without even shoes to protect their feet. They are exposed to all sorts of carcinogens including asbestos and have little or no access to medical care.
And yet, amazingly, they don't complain, but instead they toil away in attempt to make enough money to support their families. Instead, they take join in small pleasures like a new shirt, a cigarette, or a visit with their families. Iron Crows is beautifully filmed and edited. It opens a window into a far away world that most Americans are unlikely to ever see for themselves. For that we owe South Korean director Bong-Nan Park and his crew a debt of gratitude. This film would make a wonderful double feature with Garbage Dreams which screened at SXSW in 2009 which is a film about the garbage collectors in Cairo, Egypt. Both film raise profound questions about the means that our planet use to dispose of its waste and the people who are given the task of doing this work. Sadly, they too are often viewed as disposable.
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