China Blue: Getting Inside

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“Like some of Micha X. Peled’s previous films (Store Wars, Inside God’s Bunker), China Blue is primarily a deep-access film” (The Vancouver Sun). It is the first documentary to penetrate so completely the inside workings of a sweatshop factory, capturing scenes not only on the factory floor and in worker dorms, but also at management meetings and during tense negotiations with Western buyers. The main challenge for us was to get a Chinese factory owner to allow us to film. Naturally, most factories declined to have an unsupervised camera crew prowl their premises at all hours as Peled requested. After knocking on many doors our luck finally changed when we met Guo Xi Lam, the owner of a jeans factory in Shaxi. The town’s former police chief turned-businessman, Mr. Lam was proud of his newly built factory. He was flattered to be considered for an American film, which he believed was about the first generation of China’s entrepreneurs. Mr. Lam instructed everyone in the factory to co-operate with us at all hours. To select a cast for the film among the hundreds of workers at the factory, Song Chen moved into the compound and lived with the workers. As in all export factories, the workers sleep in dormitories located inside the factory’s compound. Chen was given a bunk in a girls dorm room where she was able to form close bonds with a number of workers. We cast the film based on the profiles Chen e-mailed back to Peled. Production, however, took much longer than anticipated – -interruptions ranged from SARS to police intervention and confiscation of footage. To ensure Mr. Lam’s continued co-operation we cut for him, out of the documentary footage, a sales promo DVD featuring happy workers who were proud to work around the clock to meet all deadlines.

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