THE MAY 6 SCREENING IS PART OF THE JUSTICE FORUM SERIES AND WILL INCLUDE A POST-FILM DISCUSSION.
While people in the West use smartphones to live healthier, happier lives, the construction of such devices has horrific health effects on the people who actually make them. Complicit shines a light on the dark irony of the global electronic manufacturing industry in China, where 90% of the world’s consumer electronics are produced, including 70% of its cell phones.
From factory floors to hospital beds, we meet several workers and activists who speak openly about poor wages, and abysmal working conditions. Terminal illness is also a reality for an increasing number of people. Young women and men, some barely out of their teens, work in buildings with poor ventilation, and no windows. The chemicals used to clean and assemble electronics include benzene, a known carcinogen, and N-hexane, a chemical that been proven to cause damage to the nervous system. Both have been banned in industrialized Western Countries for forty years. Filmed over three years in Shenzhen and Guangzhou, filmmakers Heather White and Lynn Zhang provide an incredible first-hand look at the frontlines of China’s labour movement. (Much of the footage was shot in secret on handheld cameras.) Despite the challenges, the labour activists are organized and dedicated to taking on some of the world’s largest, most avaricious corporations. Corruption and obstruction run deep as workers struggle to get occupational disease diagnoses. There is even proof that hospital departments take bribes from those in power, refusing proper diagnoses to sick workers, who are then forced to cover their own medical bills.
As personal computers, smartphones and other electronic devices become extensions of our bodies and minds, it’s even more important to seek out the truth behind these technologies. Knowledge is power, and in this case, it’s the first step to becoming morally responsible global citizens. -SC