SXSW FILM 2010
By Dirk Sonniksen | March 11, 2010
Director: Bong-Nam Park
Chittagong, a seaport city in Bangladesh, has a population of roughly 2.5 million. A handful of its inhabitants are tasked with the unfortunate job of breaking apart large ships that have worn out their usefulness. Many of these men come here as boys and spend their entire lives toiling barefoot in the ship graveyard of Chittagong. As one worker states, “Here we live and die. Do you understand? This is all we have.” One scene depicts a worker narrowly avoiding being crushed to death by a massive piece of the ship he is dismantling. A worker pats him on the head afterward, stating that “Allah saved you.” Indeed it could be divine intervention that spared this man’s life, but what is to save them from this miserable existence?
In Iron Crows, Director Bong-Nam Park takes us out of our comfortable confines to a place that is hard for most to imagine. This is not a documentary peppered with overdrawn interviews or over-indulgent cinematography. Instead, Park presents a stark portrait of the squalor of the ship graveyard and the misery these men endure every day. While the men admit freely their trepidation concerning their fate, they also acknowledge the necessity of the graveyard as a source of income, although it is difficult to imagine anyone working such a job for a mere two dollars a day.
Iron Crows won Best Mid-Length Documentary at the 2009 Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival, and has proved to be a crowning achievement for Park, a veteran documentary filmmaker. Iron Crows will be showing at the Hideout, Monday March 15, at 4:00pm, and at the Alamo Lamar 3 on Thursday, March 18th, at 11:30am.