Friday 4 September 2015

A Bangladeshi Ban On "Rana Plaza" Film Could Help Its Chances

September 1st was supposed to see the release in Bangladesh of a drama about one of the greatest disasters to engulf the country in recent times–the Rana Plaza collapse. The building's failure in April 2013 cost over a thousand lives, and sent shockwaves through an industry that brings £25billion into the coffers every year.
You notice that I say "supposed." Sadly the film has been banned from screenings in its native country for the next six months. The high court of Bangladesh has deemed the film unfit to play in theaters for at least that long. Meanwhile the film’s director, Nazrul Islam Khan, claims it shows hope and transparency in the controversial garment industry.
The film, also called Rana Plaza, is a lightly fictionalised account of the incredible story of Reshma Begum, who was trapped beneath the rubble of the collapsed bulding for seventeen days. She survived in a tiny space that had dried food and bottled water, keeping her alive until rescue teams could dig her out. It's a remarkable tale, and one that deserves to be shown to the widest audience.
Sadly, the garment factory owners of Bangladesh disagree. They argue that the industry has suffered enough over the past couple of years, and that Khan's film shows it in an unflinchingly negative light. The film exposes the unacceptable conditions that Bangladeshi factory workers face every day. But Rana Plaza was found by the courts to be unfit for distribution for more prosaic reasons. The High Court ruling claimed that it contained horrific scenes that could affect workers. The prime petitioner in the case is a trade union leader, but it's unclear just how much influence powerful factory owners in Bangladesh had on the decision.
However, this ruling might just backfire on them. Khan is determined that his film should be shown, and the six-month embargo ends close to the three-year anniversary of the collapse. Our View–this is a much more potent marketing opportunity, keeping the tragedy firmly in the minds of a prospective audience. That's exactly the sort of thing the factory owners who fought so hard to silence the film wanted to avoid. We'll keep you posted as to when the film gets onto the big screens. Along with The True Cost, it could be one of the must-watches of this (or next) year for fans of ethical fashion.

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