Panorama | Documentaries
Inside a massive textile factory near Surat, the economic capital of India’s Gujarat state, shirtless workers toil alongside the myriad machines needed to produce dyes and fabrics, many of which will be exported to the West. Working 12-hour shifts, these men earn the equivalent of $3 per day, an amount that is guaranteed to keep them in poverty… Director Rahul Jain, who made this film while a student at CalArts, doesn’t use voiceover to explain or music to dramatize. Instead, his pointedly political and visually mesmerizing documentary gives voice to the workers themselves, some of whom appear grateful for any kind of wage, while capturing the paradoxical beauty of the machines, both human and man-made, at work. In doing so, he has made a film where the political and the aesthetic cohere in ways rarely seen onscreen.
"Jain’s astonishing debut feature… [is] hypnotic… The film’s gliding, forward-moving form proves a chilling juxtaposition with the stasis of the workers and their stagnant socioeconomic status. This is explicitly political film-making, a direct call for unionisation, better pay and reasonable hours rather than a pitying ethnography… [Jain] avoids didacticism by letting his subjects speak for themselves and refusing to pull away when their bleak fatalism becomes uncomfortable to witness…"—Simran Hans, Guardian