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The Last Rites
12.06. - 26.07.2015
The Last Rites, is a silent film, depicting the shipbreaking yards of Chittagong, Bangladesh, which serves as a final destination for hundreds of ships that are to old to ply the oceans. Shipbreaking has become essential to Bangladesh’s industrial growth. Apart from providing more than half the steel the country of nearly 160 million people uses a year, the government collects a lot of money in revenue from an industry that employs more than 50,000 people directly, and another 0.1 million people indirectly. These ships are also in a way part of a «green industry». Almost everything on the ship and the ship itself is recycled, reused and resold. However, there is a dark side to this beaming industry, mainly environmental pollution, and worker rights violation.
Among other environmental issues, oil residues and other refuses are being spilled, mixed with the sea water and left floating along the entire seashore. Explosions of leftover gas and oil fumes in the tanks are the prime cause of accidents, but there are many other safety hasards. The employees are often barefoot, and are given no protective gear. Hundreds of men have died over the last 10 years, on average, one worker dies in the yards a week, and every day a worker is injured. There is an elemental struggle between man and metal, which is elevating throughout Yasmine´s film, as men carry the weight of steel ropes over their shoulders, pull huge parts of the vessels inland, and bear great metal plates. The last Rites is a portrayal of the consequences of the shipbreaking industry, and the agony of hard labor.
A response to Yasmine Kabir´s film “The Last Rites”. By the London critic Alisa Lebow >>>
NGO Shipbreaking-Platform Fact sheet >>>
Opening speech by Håvard Haarstad Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Depar tment of Geography, University of Bergen, Norway.