Wormgear's Latest Movie Pick

I recently saw an excellent documentary entitled Mardi Gras Made in China. As most people know, drunken Americans line the streets of the Mardi Gras parade route every year exchanging exposure of their private parts for cheap, plastic beads. Very few people take the time to think about where those beads originate, however. Conversely, most of the factory-workers in China know little or nothing about where the beads will go once they finish making them. This film provides a first-hand, in-depth look at the sweat shops in China that produce the Mardi Gras beads, and the abusive and dangerous conditions that the workers endure.

The film follows the lives of several Chinese factory workers and gives the audience insight into their daily lives and their experiences both on the job and in what little free time they have. Watching the movie, we learn about the long hours, inhumane and dangerous working conditions and the extremely low pay that is earned from completing a day's work. Viewers get the opportunity to see the workers' personal perspectives on their situation, and in some cases their family members' impressions of their jobs. The film also provides a detailed look at the managers and owners of these factories and illustrates the level of oppression to which they are willing to expose their own employees.

While learning about the lives of Mardi Gras Bead factory workers, the film simultaneously explores the other side of the Mardi Gras Bead trade-- the business owners who buy/distribute them and the Mardi Gras Party-goers who consume them. These two groups of people have one thing in common-- Mardi Grad Beads, but that is really the extent of their commonalities. One group works their lives away for mere pennies so that they might contribute, financially, to their families back home. The other group lives in excess-- drinking, partying and throwing beads into the crowds, oftentimes throwing the equivalent of one Chinese factory worker's monthly pay in a single toss.

What really makes the film something special is that the director, David Redmon, manages to give each group a bit of insight into the other side of the trade, and gives his audience the opportunity to witness this unusual event. We see the impressions of the workers in China as they watch film footage of Mardi Gras party-goers recklessly exposing themselves and throwing the beads into the streets. We see the Mardi Gras patrons having their first look at the workers in action, working very hard to produce the beads that are little more than a cheap party favour for one night of celebration and debauchery.

The two juxtaposed elements of this docu-dichotomy are expertly woven together into a fascinating unity via the use of actual footage from both China and Louisiana, and a witty narration that expertly blends tragedy and comedy. This is an amazing and enlightening film that provides a fresh and unique point of view on the issue of globalisation and the abuse of cheap labour in China; an issue that's explored and over-analised to the point of public de-sensitisation. This is on my list of recommendations for people everywhere. Kudos to David Redmon-- this is an excellent documentary.

View the film's trailer here:

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