Monday, March 20, 2006
So, how much you paid for your last pair of jeans? And do we ever think about how much the workers get paid for making these jeans if there is a label saying "Made in China?" This documentary "China Blue" brings us inside a jeans factory in Guangdong, China. The surprising great level of access to these workers and the factory owner give us a chilling first hand look at what the label "Made in China" really means. The film follows a 16-years old girl Jasmine who began to work in the Lifeng Factory to make jeans for foreign countries like USA and UK, and for companies like Wal-Mart. She lives in a dorm room in the factory (not for free) with another 11 workers. Some of these workers are as young as 14 years old (with a fake ID to come to work). She kept a diary to express how much she misses her family and how horrible the working condition is. Sometimes, they have to work 16 hours (even over 20 hours one time) without overtime pay. They only get paid about $50 to $60 a month after all these long hours of working. And this is still better than going back to countryside villages where they will make even less. It makes me furious when I see the factory owner drives his Mercedes to fancy restaurants to meet foreign customers, while he delays paying the workers after more than a month's work.
It's a really depressing film to watch and it makes me feel guilty to buy any clothes with "Made in China" on it in the future. But without the trade, Jasmine and her co-workers will make less and working even longer hours in the field as farmers. I feel hopeless and I am torn.
Although the film is quite effective, somehow I get the impression that Jasmine is staged for the documentary. After worked for 16 some hours, how could she still have the urge to write her diary under the dim light, while all the others are sleeping? It looks like she is doing that for the camera crews in the dorm room to get a beautiful close-up shot. How come they never interviewed any male worker? I was going to ask the director that question at the Q&A after the film. But I was tired. So Jordan and I left to catch the bus.
My rating: 7 out of 10.