Screening of the documentary by Sandrine Rigaud. Q&A with the author. Finalist Investigative Long
Coton: l’envers de nos tee-shirts, “The cost of cotton”, by Sandrine Rigaud | Production: Premières Lignes Télévision (France 2017), 56'
It’s the soft, natural fabric associated with high quality and versatility. Used to make everything from jeans and T-shirts to tarpaulins, oil and cattle feed, it powers a 37 billion euros a year industry. But is cotton really as pure as it seems? Claims of forced labour, pollution, and even slavery have stained its wholesome reputation, creating a market for ‘ethical, responsible’ cotton. This investigation follows the production chain to find out how cotton is really made, and examine the claims of the ethical cotton labels. It starts in Uzbekistan, where cotton is the main cash crop. A dictatorship whose people are forcibly sent to the fields at harvest every year. In 2012, reports that children as young as 9 were being forced to pick cotton led to a global campaign to stop clothing suppliers buying Uzbek cotton. Has anything changed? Then, onto the spinning mills of Bangladesh, where workers live in prison-like conditions, to the indifference of contractors.
Sandrine Rigaud is a French journalist and documentary filmmaker. She is working at Premières Lignes Télévision, a TV press agency specialized in investigative journalism; since 2015, she has been working for Cash Investigation, the award-winning investigative magazine broadcast on the French national TV news network. Born in 1978 in Egypt, Sandrine Rigaud graduated from Sciences Politiques (Paris) and the London School of Economics, then specialized in broadcast media at the Centre de Formation des Journalistes (Paris). She started as a political journalist for French national TV, and wrote a book about French presidential election (Coulisses d’un jeu de massacre, 2008). In 2010, she began directing long investigative documentary films on economic and social issues such as Google, Qatari investments in Europe, and forced labour in Uzbekistan. Her 2016 documentary The Meat Lobby: Big Business Against Health? (selected at FIGRA) investigated how industrial giants are able to stall and orientate policy decisions that directly affect public health.