Section: A World of Work and Survival

A World of Work and Survival


Hack Workers

Thrown out of their homes by their husbands, separated from their children and forced against all Uzbek customs to earn their living, women find themselves in the hellish world of markets for women as hack workers, unprotected by law and subject to violence, rape and murder.

Director: Furkat Yakvalkhodzhaev
Uzbekistan, 2002, 21 min
Source: Phoebe Schreiner
Source’s Contact: pschreiner@sorosny.org


Live Containers

This report from a women’s prison tells about the economic hardship and political chaos that has led many Tajik women to become out of sheer necessity live containers by smuggling heroin inside themselves. These women, who previously led ordinary lives, could not possibly be called criminals. The government recognizes this and occasionally amnesties those women who were caught with a relatively small, by Tajik standards, amount of drugs. Despite their sincere repentance and their joy at being liberated, there is no guarantee that life will not make them go down this terrible path again.

Director: Orzu Sharipov
Tajikistan, 2002, 26 min
Source: Phoebe Schreiner
Source’s Contact: pschreiner@sorosny.org


Porobashi Mon Amar

My Migrant Soul

“If I live, I’ll write the history of my travels in Malaysia…. I’ll write a poem about it”, said Shahjahan Babu, before leaving Bangladesh for Malaysia. ‘My Migrant Soul’, a documentary about modern-day slavery, recounts the story of Shahjahan Babu, a young migrant worker from Bangladesh. Having sold his only piece of property and virtually mortgaging his life, the young man arrives in the host country to experience only disillusionment, misery and frustration. The film ends with tragic consequences for the protagonist of the film. Prior to his death, Babu sent home audio tapes to his family, in which he recounted his bitter experiences in Malaysia. These tapes are used as a running narrative throughout the film. Songs sung by Babu are woven into the film – thus lending a poetic and poignant structure to the tragedy of Babu’s life. The camera is the medium through which Babu tells us his story posthumously.

Director: Yasmine Kabir
Bangladesh, 2000, 35 min
Director’s Contact: aykabir@agni.com


Say I Do

‘Say I Do’ chronicles the stories of three “mail order brides” from the Philippines now living in Canada. In order to escape lives of poverty and to support their families, these women married men they didn’t know. Upon arriving in Canada, they found themselves isolated in remote regions of the country. One woman arrived in a small town in the dead of winter to find herself living in a camper with no running water. She soon discovered that her husband was a violent man. With no one to turn to, these women are at the mercy of their husbands. What lies ahead for these women is uncertain. The lucky ones may find stability. The less fortunate may suffer terrible consequences. All of them are willing to take the risk. “Whether you like it or not, whether your marriage is good or not, you have to take it. So it’s just like a gamble. You’re gambling yourself.”

Director: Arlene Ami
Canada, 2003, 55 min
Producer: Red Storm Productions
Director’s Contact: arlene@redstorm.ca


Silk and Iron

‘Silk and Iron’ explores how Asian women workers organize themselves to transform gender relations and to resist corporate-led globalisation. It communicates the voices and faces of women workers, unionists and activists from Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, South Korea and Thailand.

The theme ‘Silk and Iron’ conveys the varied roles played by women workers in Asia: the gentle, patient, tolerant roles of a daughter, sister, wife and mother who is soft as silk yet she is expected to be a strong, productive earner working obediently in a man’s world. The theme also conveys the spirit and iron will of women workers to fight against injustice.

Director: N.S.Nye
Thailand, 2003, 26 min
Producer: Committee for Asian Women (CAW) & WAYANG
Director’s Contact: wayangnet@lycos.com


Sunder Nagri

The City Beautiful

‘Sunder Nagri’ (Beautiful City) is a small working class colony on the margins of India’s capital city Delhi. Most families residing here come from a community of weavers. The last ten years have seen a gradual disintegration of the handloom tradition of this community under the globalisation regime. The families have to cope with change as well as reinvent themselves to eke out a living. ‘The City Beautiful’ is the story of two families struggling to make sense of a world that keeps pushing them to the margins. Radha and Bal Krishan are at a critical point in their relationship. Bal Krishan is underemployed and constantly cheated. They are in disagreement about Radha going out to work. However, through all their ups and downs they retain the ability to laugh. The second family of Shakuntla and Hira Lal hardly communicate. They live under one roof with their children but are locked in their own sense of personal tragedies.

Director: Rahul Roy
India, 2003, 78 min
Producer: Aakar
Director’s Contact: khel@vsnl.com


Tales of the Night Fairies

Five sex workers – Four women and one man – along with the filmmaker/narrator embark on a journey of storytelling. ‘Tales of Night Fairies’ explores the power of collective organizing and resistance while reflecting upon contemporary debates around sex work. The expensive and labyrinth city of Calcutta forms the backdrop for the personal and musical journeys of storytelling. The film attempts to represent the struggles and aspirations of thousands of sex workers who constitute the DMSC (Durbar Mahila Samanyay Committee or the Durbar Women’s Collaborative Committee) an initiative that emerged from the Shonagachi HIV/AIDS Intervention Project. A collective of men, women and transgendered sex workers, DMSC demands the end to discrimination of adult sex work and supports the right to form a trade union.

Director: Shohini Ghosh
India, 2002, 74 min
Director’s Contact: shohini@vsnl.com


The Story of Suja

Who is Suja? A nurse, mother of an 8 years old girl, a woman deserted by her man, a worker in the seafood processing industry, a victim of this very industry, a victim turned victor? Or Suja Abraham, a 26 year old woman from Kerala who dared to put an end to her miserable existence in the fish processing units, who won a war against an exploitative contract system, who has become a veritable symbol for the trials and workers? Perhaps, she is all of these.

Is this film about her? Does it tell her story? In the film, Suja represents the lives and struggle of woman workers migrating to far off lands to work with the fish processing industry. This film is an attempt to bring to light the dark reality of these women.

Director: K. M. Madhusudhanan
India, 2001, 26 min
Producer: Centre for Education and Communication
Director’s Contact: km_madhusudhnan@hotmail.com


Tomorrow Will Be Better

‘Tommorrow Will be Better’ is the stories of four women from different sectors of society woven together to make a collective portrait of the Lithuanian woman, who has had to adapt to radically new conditions since transition. An unemployed actress fights against depressions after losing her beloved work. A resilient saleswoman takes up any job from selling items purchased abroad to organizing a daring service. A woman farmer courageously tries to keep her farm afloat. A political scientist from Vilnius is apparently the only one who’s had no trouble making the transition from being a part of the Soviet elite to being a part of the elite of an independent Lithuania.

Director: Monica Juozapaviciute
Lithuania, 2003, 40 min
Source: Phoebe Schreiner
Source’s Contact: pschreiner@sorosny.org

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