German directors made a short film titled “Speaking Cotton”, about child labor exploitation in Uzbekistan. The film tells the story about exploitation of child labor during the cotton harvest in Uzbekistan.
According to the film’s creators Erik Malchow and Stefanie Trambow, they got the idea from human rights activists of “Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights”.
Most of the film was shot in Uzbekistan in October of 2010, the rest was shot in Germany.
Interesting fact is that filmmakers spend some time speaking to the people in Uzbekistan, and later make a decision not to get official shoot permission from the Uzbek officials.
Reportedly, they simply came to Uzbekistan as simple tourists, with one HD-camera, and decided to shoot. According to to Malchow, “the film is mostly for German audience, since they mostly get the information from the web”, and filmmakers plan to introduce them to the problem of child labor use in Uzbekistan.
According to Malchow, the filming process was not easy, since they did not have any official permission for shooting.
“We started shooting in Tashkent (Uzbekistan capital), and every time I got by a control checkout, I was saying I was a simple travelling tourist,” says Malchow.
“We tried to be as careful as posslble, since if any official had noticed us, there would have been big problems,” he continues. “We’ve heard stories about the difficulties that BBC journalists faced working in Uzbekistan”.
Malchow says the problem of cotton harvesting touches the whole country of Uzbekistan, starting from children, and till teachers, officials, doctors etc.
“Its put like these children are doing cotton harvesting and earn some money for books,” Malchow says. “However, we believe they’re being heavily underpaid”.
It seems like this problem is absolutely unknown to Germans, since a usual German doesn’t even know what is necessary to harvest cotton, and what cotton even looks like.
Co-creator of the film Stefanie Trambow was stunned by the fact that most Uzbeks accept this cotton-harvesting matter “as it is, as something normal”.
The film was finalized in the fall of 2011, just after the conclusion of the cotton harvest season and demonstrates that in spite of Uzbekistan signing various ILO conventions banning forced child labour, this practice continues to be in use.
This short documentary film gives insight into the apparatus running the cotton industry and the reasons as to why this system is still employed in spite of international efforts and awareness.
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