BWW Review: INVISIBLE HANDS ~ Exposing The Travesty of Child Labor

BWW Review: INVISIBLE HANDS ~ Exposing The Travesty of Child Labor

The original sin of global corporations, notwithstanding the espoused benefits of free trade and technology transfer, is the human price that is paid for affordability. It's not been unknown that the benefit of manufacturing in developing countries is the availability of cheap labor. Nor is it a secret that a lot of that cheap labor involves children.

But, beyond the knowledge of the travesty, there is the haunting experience of observing the travesty firsthand. Of realizing the cost to these children in terms of their health, education, and happiness. Of recognizing the abdication of accountability by the companies that gain from the ill-gotten profits. And, of acknowledging that many of the products we consume have the calloused hands of exploited children to thank.

In INVISIBLE HANDS, journalist and filmmaker Shraysi Tandon focuses like a laser on what are, in effect, the crimes of child trafficking and slave labor.

It is a bold and poignant documentary that Tandon has made ~ a thorough exposé of conscience ~ unique actually in that it places the scenes of punishing labor in the context of production supply chains and the corporate preference for low wage and unregulated markets.

Exploitation, then, is merely and unforgivably the shameful cost of doing business. It's a proposition affirmed by numerous experts from around the world. One of them, Siddharth Kara, Director of Human Trafficking & Modern Slavery at Harvard University, put it this way, defining what child labor really is: "It's their suffering turned into our food and our clothes and our jewelry and our chocolates."

Tandon builds her case piece by piece in the manner of a highly astute investigative reporter. She steers us through footage of a secret raid in India to liberate children from their servitude in metal production to outposts of exploitation in factories and on farms on every continent ~ in Afghanistan, Turkey, the Philippines, China, and the United States. She explains the devices by which the multinationals turn a blind eye to what happens at the bottom link of the supply chain.

Some of the filming requires risking one's safety as the crew operates undercover. Their risk, however, produces the film's most gripping and revealing moments ~ interviews with children whose childhood has been stolen from them, who speak of interminable work days with little food or rest, of injuries, and of exposure to toxic chemicals.

Tandon is keen on adding to the narrative a glimmer of hope. Initiatives exist to address the special needs of victims of child labor and restore their lives. She introduces one such entity in India, Bal Ashram, whose vision is "to create a child labour free society, where all children, barring any discrimination on the grounds caste, creed or religion, to receive free, compulsory and quality education."

Tandon's documentary is a masterful and critically important piece of work, enhanced by Sofia Hultquist's music and the remarkable crisp cinematography of Yuanchen Liu, Erik Shirai, and Selase Kove Seyram.

As Tandon's undeniable premise is that "ending the cycle of poverty begins with eliminating child labor," so is INVISIBLE HANDS her invaluable contribution to fulfilling that goal.

INVISIBLE HANDS is one of the films to be featured at this year's Sedona International Film Festival.

Photo credit to Tandon Media LLC

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From This Author Herbert Paine

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