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That's Why I'm Working 1999


Distributed by First Run/Icarus Films, 32 Court St., 21st Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201; 800-876-1710
Produced by IKON/Frame Mediaprodukties
Director n/a
VHS, color, 88 min.

Sociology, Economics, Asian Studies

Date Entered: 11/09/2018

Reviewed by Michael Fein, Coordinator of Library Services, Central Virginia Community College, Lynchburg, VA

Beginning with a scene showing a young boy rummaging through trash, this documentary shows the lives of working children who live in the slums of Dacca, Bangladesh. The children, through the editor, speak for themselves as the video portrays contrasting scenes of the children at work, at home, at a school established especially for them, and simply describing their situation. There is neither English dialogue nor narration; subtitles are used throughout as those portrayed speak.

The great tragedy and utter poverty of their lives is jolting, yet one is amazed at the children's industry. Four families are shown. When three girls describe their lives, they are either neutral or even optimistic about their futures. The story told by the only boy interviewed is heart-wrenching. Working as a goatherd for four dollars per month (his mother is paid two dollars per month to clean someone's home), he was especially worried about the recovery of his injured and unemployed father. The school teacher appeared to be competent, but when she is shown lecturing the children's parents, she seemed rather arrogant and condescending.

Technically, this production had no apparent flaws. There is no music and the sound is very clear. The subtitles are easy to read. The sanitation standards of Dacca are not the same as those in the U.S., so instructors may want to carefully consider when to show this film, such as around mealtimes. Recommended, this work would be suitable for high school or lower division college courses in sociology, economics, and South Asian Studies (among others).