Thursday, June 7, 2018

Jason goes to Docfest--Day 6

A couple more films Tuesday night, a night of politics and social justice.

COMPLICIT is the story of migrant workers in China, leaving their impoverished country farms looking for a better life in the factories of the big cities. Instead they find unsafe working conditions, toxic chemicals, leukemia, nervous system damage, and death. But hey, at least we get cheap cell phones, right? Or...at least Apple gets to make more profit on their cell phones, right?

Okay, there wasn't much in this film that I didn't kinda know already. Some of the dirty shenanigans I didn't know all the details, like technically none of Apple's or Samsung's suppliers use the offending toxic chemicals--but of course their subcontractors do (Apple and Samsung, of course, could take responsibility for their entire supply chain, not just the first tier.) Mostly it's putting a human face on the suffering that has a strong impact. But the film does get kind of repetitive (confession, I dozed off for a bit, but was assured by my friends that I didn't miss much. And, for what it's worth, it's not just a Chinese problem, there's exposure to toxic chemicals in the U.S., too. (I happen to know way too much about some E&HS issues at a certain...let's leave it unnamed, but say it's a State University right here in San Francisco)

Most importantly, right after the movie I got right onto my smart phone and Googled ethically sourced cell phones. The top of the list, Fairphone, is so far only available in Europe. But I also found a handy ethical comparison guide that revealed my phone--the Google Pixel--to be the absolute worst. Worse than the iPhone or Samsung. Way to not be evil, Google motherfuckers!
A migrant worker, who didn't get the better life she was looking for

And then the next program started with a short, THE END OF WEED. A meditation from a simple country farmer, about his worries that his simple business won't be able to survive as the big companies move in and turn "growin' weed" into "cannabusiness."

That was the lead-in to the feature, MY COUNTRY NO MORE. This explores the oil boom in North Dakota from the point of view of locals--focusing on the Rider family--who are concerned about the refinery that the oil companies want to put right in town, next to the train tracks. Not cool, since they've lived of the land there for their entire lives, and have a strong connection to the landscape. It's a lyrical story of activism, preservation, and land use zoning laws. The oil boom, powered by fracking, has undoubtedly been an economic miracle for North Dakota. But there are multiple layers of importance at play here, and the environmental, social, and possible even existential layers are at odds with the financial benefits of unchecked "progress." This is captured in personal stories and breathtaking, beautiful cinematography.
Kalie Rider, trying to keep an oil refinery out of her neighborhood. In one of about a thousand beautifully composed shots in this film.
Total Running Time: 176 minutes
My Total Minutes: 482,451
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