“A riveting documentary ...a heart-wrenching story of the exploitation of young optimism and energy by the desire for profit. See it before you head off to the mall for that clothing sale.”
(San Francisco, CA)—Do you know who made the jeans you’re wearing? CHINA BLUE follows a pair of denim jeans from manufacture to sale, linking the power of the U.S. consumer market to the daily lives of a Chinese factory owner and two teenaged female workers. Filmed in the factory and the workers' remote village, this documentary provides a rare human glimpse of China's rapid transformation into a free market society. Human rights, job outsourcing and globalization are the subjects of this moving film.
CHINA BLUE will have its television premiere on the Emmy® Award-winning PBS series Independent Lens, hosted by Terrence Howard, on Tuesday, April 3, at 10 PM (check local listings). April’s other Independent Lens broadcasts include BLACK GOLD (April 10), another film that examines the impact of globalization, this time on Ethiopian coffee farmers. Rounding out the month of business-related documentaries is ENRON: The Smartest Guys in the Room (April 24).
Shot secretly over a three-year period in China, CHINA BLUE is a poignant look at what both China and the international retail companies don’t want us to see — how the clothes we buy are actually made. It follows a group of teenage girls as they leave their rural homes for work at a jeans factory in the big city. Often the girls, many of them under the age of 15, work through the day and the night with no overtime pay and a base salary of $.06 per hour. They live 12 to a room in cement dormitories with one squat toilet serving also as a sink. Their meals and rent are deducted from their wages. The jeans they produce are shipped to the U.S. and other Western countries, and workers make a fraction of what consumers are charged for the final product.
CHINA BLUE brings a whole new perspective to shopping for clothes. As producer Micha Peled says: “People don’t want to feel guilty when they buy clothing, but once they see the film, shopping may never be the same.” During production, the filmmakers were arrested and their tapes confiscated by Chinese police. The film is currently banned in China.
The CHINA BLUE interactive companion website (pbs.org/chinablue) features detailed information on the film, including an interview with the filmmaker and links and resources pertaining to the film’s subject matter. The site also features a Talkback section for viewers to share their ideas and opinions, preview clips of the film, and more. CHINA BLUE is a co-production of Teddy Bear Films and the Independent Television Service (ITVS) in association with the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
ON-AIR PARTICIPANTS -
Jasmine, 16-year-old farmer’s daughter from Sichuan province who has just arrived from her village to work in the shipping department of Lifeng factory.
Dr. Liu Kaiming, founder and director of the Contemporary Observation Institute in Shenzhen, China, and an expert on labor conditions in factories. He often works on projects with international funds such as Oxfam and the Ford Foundation.
Mr. Lam, former police chief of Shaxi, now the owner of the Lifeng jeans factory.
Li Ping, 14-year-old farmer’s daughter from Sichuan province, who quit school last year and now works as a seamstress at the Lifeng factory.
Orchid, 19-year-old farmer’s daughter from Sichuan province, who specializes in installing zippers at the Lifeng factory.
Yang Ching, former manager in a nearby factory, who was fired when she became pregnant.
About the Filmmaker
Micha X. Peled (Producer and Director) was born and raised in Israel and is one of the few people ever to emigrate to the United States by hitchhiking. His checkered career includes stints as an importer of hammocks and sheepskin jackets, a tutor, a prison guard, a freelance journalist, a director of the Nuclear Freeze Campaign and the executive director of Media Alliance, a media watchdog group in San Francisco. He also guided adventure trips in the jungles of Thailand and Brazil. Peled’s first documentary, Will My Mother Go Back to Berlin looked at relations between Jews and Germans 50 years after the Holocaust through his personal family story. Winning awards on both sides of the Atlantic and encouraged by the Los Angeles Times critic Charles Champlin who wrote "It's a damn good film," Peled left his job to become a full-time filmmaker. His next film, Inside God's Bunker, followed a group of extremist Israeli settlers in the West Bank during a highly tense period that culminated in a massacre. It aired on television in 14 countries in Europe, Australia, U.S. and Japan.
You, Me, Jerusalem was the first Israeli-Palestinian co-directed film, which Peled also produced. It followed an ambulance team comprised of both Israelis and Arabs, which responded to emergencies in both sides of the capital. Next came the ITVS-funded STORE WARS: When Wal-Mart Comes to Town, which follows one Southern town struggling to decide whether to allow Wal-Mart to build a mega-store there. To produce this film that takes on the largest company in the world, Peled founded a non-profit organization, Teddy Bear Films. The film won a number of awards, including Best Documentary at the San Francisco International Film Festival and the CINE Golden Eagle. It was nominated for the IDA (International Documentary Association) Distinguished Achievement Pare Lorenz Award. Along the way, Peled has produced numerous television magazine items for broadcasters in the U.S., Germany and France. He also authored a slim volume of fiction, The Fisherman and the Nymph.
About Independent Lens
Independent Lens is an Emmy® Award-winning weekly series airing Tuesday nights at 10 PM on PBS. Hosted this season by Terrence Howard, the acclaimed anthology series features documentaries and a limited number of fiction films united by the creative freedom, artistic achievement and unflinching visions of their independent producers. Independent Lens features unforgettable stories about a unique individual, community or moment in history. Presented by ITVS, the series is supported by interactive companion websites, and national publicity and community engagement campaigns. Further information about the series is available at pbs.org/independentlens. Independent Lens is jointly curated by ITVS and PBS, and is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private corporation funded by the American people, with additional funding provided by PBS and the National Endowment for the Arts. The series producer is Lois Vossen.
The Independent Television Service (ITVS) funds and presents award-winning documentaries and dramas on public television, innovative new media projects on the Web and the Emmy® Award-winning weekly series Independent Lens on Tuesday nights at 10 PM on PBS. ITVS is a miracle of public policy created by media activists, citizens and politicians seeking to foster plurality and diversity in public television. ITVS was established by a historic mandate of Congress to champion independently produced programs that take creative risks, spark public dialogue and serve underserved audiences. Since its inception in 1991, ITVS programs have revitalized the relationship between the public and public television, bringing TV audiences face-to-face with the lives and concerns of their fellow Americans. More information about ITVS can be obtained by visiting itvs.org. ITVS is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.
PBS is a media enterprise that serves 354 public noncommercial television stations and reaches almost 90 million people each week through on-air and online content. Bringing diverse viewpoints to television and the Internet, PBS provides high-quality documentary and dramatic entertainment, and consistently dominates the most prestigious award competitions. PBS is a leading provider of educational materials for K-12 teachers, and offers a broad array of other educational services. PBS' premier kids' TV programming and Web site, PBS KIDS Online (pbskids.org), continue to be parents' and teachers' most trusted learning environments for children. More information about PBS is available at pbs.org, one of the leading dot-org Web sites on the Internet.
About the Center for Asian American Media
The Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) is a non-profit organization dedicated to presenting stories that convey the richness and diversity of Asian American experiences to the broadest audience possible. We do this by funding, producing, distributing and exhibiting works in film, television and digital media. For more information, please visit, asianamericanmedia.org.
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