Human Rights Watch Festival 2017: Our Review of ‘Complicit’

Human Rights Watch Festival 2017: Our Review of ‘Complicit’

We live in an era where many of us cannot go more than a few hours without looking at our phones. Despite our dependency on our electronic devices, we rarely give any thought to the human cost associated with them. In their eye-opening documentary Complicit, directors Heather White and Lynn Zhang take viewers into some of the factories in China, which produce components for the majority of the world’s devices, to highlight the deadly working conditions employees face.

Drawn in by the promise of a high paying job in the big city, hundreds of young men and women leave their rural communities behind and travel long distances in hopes of a better life. What they find though is anything but paradise. They spend their days and weekends working long hours cleaning screens, which will end up as part of cell phones for companies such as Apple and Samsung, in unventilated conditions. Thanks to cleaning carcinogens such as n-hexane and benzene, the latter of which is banned in Western companies, a staggering amount of workers are incurring deadly ailments such as poisoning, leukemia and paralysis to name a few.

White and Zhang craft a film that is as much a call to action for the viewer as it is a condemnation of the companies at their stories core. Focusing on both the employees and the activist organizations fighting on their behalf, Complicit is pointed exploration into the various levels of corporate and governmental corruption impacting China’s manufacturing industry. The film forces one to ponder how much a life is truly worth in our profit obsessed world.

Aiming to inspire consumers to stand up and demand better from corporations, Complicit is a film worth putting our electronics down for. The film screens this Thursday.

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Courtney has been sharing his thoughts on film online since 2006. The founder of Cinema Axis, he frequently celebrates diversity in cinema as one of the co-hosts of the Changing Reels podcast on Modern Superior. A regular on the Regent Radio program Frameline, Courtney has contributed to several publications including Black Girl Nerds, Comix Asylum Magazine and The Grid Does TIFF. He is also a member of both the Canadian Association of Online Film Critics and the Online Film Critics Society.