• Golden Globe Awards

Made in Bangladesh (Bangladesh, France, Denmark, Portugal)

This Bangladeshi movie from director Rubaiyat Hossain is the story of a group of garment workers who work in tyrannical conditions to produce cheap clothing for westerners. Wages are withheld, sexism, violence and abuse are the norm. Finally one woman, Shimu, goes about creating a labor union for the women in the factory, facing even more abuse and attempts at silencing her. The paucity of choices for women in Bangladeshi society are clearly laid out: if you don’t agree to marry, you will get no respect from society. If you do, you are your husband’s property and must obey his laws and dictates. “We are screwed if we are married and we’re screwed if we are not,” says Shimu, pretty much summing up the dilemma of women and girls in this society.Directed by Rubaiyat Hossein, Made in Bangladesh had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival last year. It unsparingly shows the human cost of the cheap clothing that so many consumers in the west just take for granted.After a fire breaks out at the factory, killing one worker, Shimu decides enough is enough and goes about informing herself on how to establish a union, facing abuse, threats and opprobrium. It is a Herculean effort, make harder by relentless bureaucracy and it a few sleights of hand and dirty tricks to get the result she set out to achieve.Made on a miniscule budget with just two main locations, the cinematography nevertheless evokes the suffocating, unhealthy and claustrophobic atmospheres in which these workers spend so much of their time for paltry financial rewards. Shimu and the other workers know full well they have very little to lose by organizing and otherwise, nothing will be handed to them easily.An assured piece of work from an interesting and political filmmaker.