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.

This post was written by
Courtney is a Rotten Tomatoes approved critic and the founder of Cinema Axis. He can frequently be heard discussing film as co-host of Frameline on Radio Regent. Courtney has contributed to several publications including Leornard Maltin, That Shelf, Black Girl Nerds, and Comix Asylum Magazine. He also celebrates diversity in cinema as co-hosts of the Changing Reels podcast and is a member of the Online Film Critics Society.
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