presented by 3rd I South Asian Film Festival and kino21

From art-house classics to documentary films, from innovative and experimental visions to next-level Bollywood: 3rd i is committed to promoting diverse images of South Asians through independent film. Our 2009 festival showcases films from South Asia and the South Asian diaspora, including India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Kashmir, Australia, Canada, Germany, UK and the USA.

Sunday, November 8, 12 noon
Castro Theater
IRON EATERS (Lohakhor/Eisenfresser)
by Shaheen Dill-Riaz
Bangladesh/Germany, 2008
Bengali with English Subtitles

Every year, the ebb and flow of the Ganges floodplain leaves farmers in northern Bangladesh in need of employment to help them survive the yearly droughts. Many of them travel hundreds of miles south to the shores of Chittagong to labor in one of Bangladesh's most prosperous industries, dismantling colossal ships and tankers the discards of the developed worldfor scrap iron.

German-Bangladeshi filmmaker Shaheen Dill-Riaz spent four months at the Peace, Happiness and Prosperity Shipyard, and chronicled the daily lives of the workers through close observation. His camera exquisitely captures the mind-boggling scenery of behemoth container ships washed up like whales on the muddy shore. Between the ocean liners, the workers look like ants. They slog barefoot as cable-pullers and sheet-carriers their bodies heaving to and fro, sinking knee-deep into the mud. This dangerous work, that even no local would do, earns them 33 cents a day.

Before long, Dill-Riazs perceptive camera captures the camaraderie of the workers, and begins to hone in on their internal hierarchies. Various levels of exploitation in the shipyard from owners to contractors to shopkeepers, who withhold money from the workers or cut their hoursbecome apparent. Ultimately, this fascinating focus on the little documented ship-breaking industry serves as a metaphor for all global labor exploitation. -- Neelanjana Banerjee