We’ve been concentrating on the manufacture of clothes in Bangladesh, but what about the cloth itself? Cotton, for example. Where does that come from? How is it farmed? What relationships do we have with its farmers? Later this year a documentary film called Dirty White Gold will be released. It’s been crowd-funded, and raises important issues that we need to understand and bring into our Challenge.
Below is the film’s description from the production company website, and a 12 minute ‘teaser’ that brings this to life. Read and watch!
“When you bag a bargain, who pays for it?” Up to twenty-six Indian cotton farmers a day drink pesticides to kill themselves out of a cycle debt formed by a reliance on corporate and government subsidies and unscrupulous middle-men. Yeah. So. A film about farmer suicides. Not exactly your Friday night date movie. But director/presenter Leah Borromeo has a history of mashing raw journalism with subversion and social change. Sort of like Newsnight meets the Yes Men at a toga party … after they found the free tequila. So here’s the rub: Consumers are complicit in these deaths. They are the last in a supply chain starting with a box of seeds and a bottle of poison – and the most removed. The source, the origin, what happened to the farmer and if he was paid a fair price for his hard labour matters little when one’s choosing naughty knickers. Below Poverty Line? There’s Visible Panty Line to consider. Leah … follow[s] the thread of our clothing from seed to shop – from the farmers to brokers and bankers to the factories and manufacturers through to the labels we love to wear. She’ll show the environmental and social impact of the intense use of pesticides, will engage in the debate around genetically modified seed, investigate the concept of fair trade, explore the viability of organic cotton, probe the structures that make the rich rich and the poor poor. How do we make ethical fashion the norm, rather than the exception? But this is not just another campaigning film. Leah’s a troublemaking Situationist journalist and friend to The Yes Men, Reverend Billy and the Space Hijackers. So it won’t be a film that hits you with the worthy stick. It will be quirky, funny and have a subversive twist.
Then read this article about the shirt company featured in the film, ‘Not all Asian clothing factories are unethical’, published in the Guardian yesterday.