23 August 2011

Bengali docu to crow about:

IRON CROWS. In Bengali, with English subtitles. Running time: 93 minutes. Not rated (mature themes). At Film Forum, Houston Street, west of Sixth Avenue. Through Tuesday.

Another day, another $2. That's how much the laborers profiled in the eye-opening documentary "Iron Crows" make daily dismantling retired ships in Bangladesh. It's perilous work ("8 hours of work means 8 hours of danger," one worker confesses), but the men and boys, some as young as 12, need the money to feed their families.

Most of them come from the most impoverished area of Bangladesh, one of the world's poorest nations. But going to the port city of Chittagong, home to PHP Ship Breaking & Recycling Industries, is a treat.

Men trudge through the mud as they dismantle old ships -- in an environment filled with toxins -- to make $2 a day.
"They're all dying to come here because they think it's like going overseas," one worker tells the film's director, Bong-nam Park of South Korea. "It's like a foreign country to them."

Wearing flip-flops or barefooted, the men wade through thigh-high mud, wrestling with thousands of tons of iron pieces at a factory full of asbestos and toxic gases. Park's hand-held digital-video camera happens to be there when a heavy piece of falling iron narrowly misses a ship-cutter.

In the film's saddest sequence, a worker goes home for his first look at his baby girl, who was born blind because of malnutrition. "Iron Crows," which gets its name from the birds that build their nests with iron strips from the ships, will at the very least make you count your blessings.

Source: New York Post. 23 August 2011

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