Electrical

A Decent Factory

Cell phone

Year: 2005

Type: Documentary Film (79 minutes)

Alternative title: Made in China

Director: Thomas Balmès

(Co)production companies:  Margot Films, Making Movies Oy, France 2, BBC – Storyville & YLE

Availability: on DVD (from the distributor Icarus Films, US$440), in free online clips in English (3.40 minutes on YouTube + 1.24 minutes on YouTube) and free online dubbed into German (all 79 minutes in 6 sections on YouTube).

Page reference: Myint, T. & Lee, C. (2011) A decent factory. followthethings.com (www.followthethings.com/adecentfactory.shtml last accessed <insert date here>)

Descriptions

Amazingly, when ‘corporate ethics’ consultants hired by the cellphone giant Nokia are sent to China to audit one of its factories, a camera crew was allowed to go along for the ride. The result is a peek into the conflict between corporate interests and social accountability that sometimes seems frankly unresolvable (Source: Pevere 2005, np).

In an increasingly globalized economy, more corporations are ‘outsourcing’ their production to countries with cheaper labor costs and less legal protection of workers’ rights. Some corporate managers, whether out of sincere moral concern or because they must respond to the considerations of investors and shareholders, are attempting to balance profit-making with social morality. A DECENT FACTORY focuses on such an effort by Nokia, the Finnish electronics firm, which sends a team led by two business ethics advisors to examine conditions at a Chinese factory that supplies parts to Nokia. Filmmaker Thomas Balmès, having conducted three years of research on the subject, follows them on their investigative journey. The film documents in fascinating detail their inspection of the plant, guided by its European and Chinese managers. During their tour the Nokia team investigates working and safety conditions, payroll records, and potential environmental hazards. They also conduct probing interviews with the factory managers as well as several of the young Chinese female employees who work and live in dormitories on the site. The advisors’ final report to Nokia managers, which exposes numerous violations of even the less stringent Chinese laws on minimum wage and working conditions, confronts Nokia with the dilemma now facing an increasing number of Western firms–how is it possible to balance the profit motive with a sense of social responsibility? (Source: Anon 2005a, np link).

Is the Nokia Corporation worried about the working conditions of thousands of young Chinese women employed by their suppliers to manufacture all those little bitty parts that go into your cell phone? Or is Nokia more concerned that you might hold them to account if you knew that their workers earn less than the Chinese minimum wage? That’s for you to decide after watching this eye-opening investigation in which the cultural divide (Chinese workers, British managers, Finnish executives) and the even more dramatic gender divide (women workers and investigators, male managers and executives) go a long way toward explaining why the investigators’ recommendation that open buckets of toxic chemicals not be stored where the workers take their tea is met with this response: “Ok, take them into the kitchen!” (Source: Anon 2005b, np link: see clip below).

The opening and closing scenes in this documentary film strike a glaring contrast between the regimented lives of Chinese factory workers and the relative insouciance enjoyed by Western business people. While his approach is subtle, it seems that filmmaker Thomas Balmés is hoping we’ll notice the irony: Nokia capitalists who benefit from cheap Chinese labor are on a mission to investigate labor law violations at an electronics factory that supplies the Finnish corporation. … Unique compared to other exposés, Balmés’ documentary functions as a case study of Nokia and one Chinese factory, yet it does not entirely ignore the wider context. Rather than providing answers or solutions, he asks an uncomfortable question: can Western executives in a globalized world cling to ideals realized by the labor movement, or must they become cogs in a giant machine, alongside the factory workers they inevitably exploit? (Source: Islam 2005, np link).

Director Thomas Balmès follows Nokia, the world’s largest manufacturer of mobile phones, in its quest to tackle the problem of sustainable enterprise. Is it possible to simultaneously make a profit and conduct business ethically? This question is becoming increasingly important for Western companies, especially when their production is taking place in poorer countries. When the film begins, the originally Finnish company Nokia has just hired Hanna Kaskinen as an “ethical and environmental specialist,” to propagate the concept of sustainable enterprise within the company. Apparently, Nokia managers are still quite unfamiliar with the phenomenon. Filmmaker Balmès follows Kaskinen and her English advisor to China, where they visit and inspect a number of Nokia suppliers. The filmmaker’s direct cinema style mercilessly records the discomfort among the British managers, who walk the tightrope between profit and law. The executives’ initial frankness changes when they find out that the film is not solely intended for internal use. By this time, though, we are already haunted by the images of factory girls on an assembly line, putting together adapters day in and day out for less than the required minimum wage (Source: Anon 2010, np link).

Global companies wish to be well-thought of and very successful. Being Finnish, and therefore Scandinavian, Nokia is in the lead when it comes to feeling good about capitalism. But it is not always easy to feel good about the methods by which you make piles of money. Enter ethical consultants. Thomas Balmes’ funny, perceptive film follows a Nokia executive and a British ethical management consultant as they make their way around Nokia’s prime phone charger suppliers in China. You get a pretty good sense from the film of what it’s like to be a teenager working indirectly (the factory is not owned by Nokia) for a Western corporation in the New China. But the film is also a moral investigation into the profit motive. Is it appropriate for Western companies to make large amounts of money from low wages and generously relaxed labour laws? Should Nokia or we care where are chargers come from, or how they were made? You won’t be much clearer about answers to these subjects by the end of the film – but nor is the Nokia delegation (Source: Fraser 2005, np link).

In the Thomas Balmès-directed documentary A DECENT FACTORY, Finnish cell phone company Nokia resolves to enforce ethical standards in their business practices and enlists the help of an outside consultant, Louise Jamison. Led by Nokia executive Hanna Kaskinen, a team travels to China to visit one of their supplying factories, staffed by quiet young men and women completing repetitive, endless tasks. The initially cordial visit quickly turns contentious as the reality of the poor working conditions, mistreatment, and lack of proper compensation are revealed. … The findings presented in A DECENT FACTORY do not come as a surprise, but they are nonetheless moving. As the filmmakers visit one of the female dormitories (men and women are kept separate and forbidden to be romantically involved), the squalid rooms are brightened by posters and potted flowers. Interviews with the workers are further revealing, as they detail the low pay, bad food, and abusive tactics of their supervisors on the factory floor. By film’s end, it becomes clear that Nokia’s team members must be patient and wait for conditions to slowly improve. A DECENT FACTORY illustrates that reform is sometimes not sweeping, but instead a gradual and difficult journey (Source: Anon 2005c, np link).

Due to increasing pressure from investors and the general public, Finnish Nokia wants to insure that its image stays “clean” in regard to its outsourced manufacturing. At a company meeting, one brave soul actually asks aloud what now must be the $64 million question – does Nokia truly want to commit itself to improving conditions in its outsourced factories or merely to protect its image? Not too surprisingly, the question, never answered, is tacitly delayed until the full extent of the problem is revealed. Hanna Kaskinen, Nokia’s resident environmental/ethical expert, and Louise Jamison, an English ethics consultant hired by Nokia, swap war stories, anticipating the difficulties they may encounter at factories in China, including double, even triple sets of books and hidden child labor. By the time they arrive in China, docu viewers are primed to witness untold horrors. Instead, the fairly modern factory comes across as well-maintained, as do the adjacent dormitories where 99 percent of the largely female young workers reside. Intensive inspection unearths both blatant no-nos (no signed contracts, toxic cleaning materials stored in open containers right next to drinking water) and more complex infractions (imaginative accounting disguising the fact that workers earn less than minimum wage, involuntary overtime, room and board automatically docked from paychecks). Bent over circuit boards, the girls align teensy-weensy parts without the aid of magnifying mirrors routinely installed for such detailed close work. The casually mentioned 26-day month used to calculate earnings translates into six-day work weeks of 12-hour shifts. No food is allowed in the cramped, monitored dormitories, where groups of eight employees each are stacked in smallish rooms equipped with single hole-in-the-floor toilets. While English top execs adopt a straightforward, supposedly disarming admission of shortcomings, Chinese middle-management tends toward overt repression (demanding to oversee worker interviews) and backpedaling cover-ups (the camera recording frantically whispered, later subtitled, exchanges in Chinese). … Yet the factory, as the investigators continually assure local management, is better than most. Even interviews with workers themselves yield comparatively minor complaints about harsh forewomen and poor food. As the docu progresses, the truth sinks in that this isolated, regimented, soulless environment is as “decent” as the global workplace is ever likely to get (Source: Scheib 2005, p.24).

Thomas Balmes’s fly-on-the-wall documentary uses your cell phone charger as a case study in how multibillion-dollar multinationals are dealing with multihorrible working conditions in the overseas plants run by their subcontractors. From Nokia’s HQ in Finland, we’re catapulted to the Chinese special economic zone of Shenzhen, where an earnest ethical manager and a consultant-for-hire undertake Nokia’s first ever “ethical suppliers’ assessment” to satisfy their investors. They’re guided though the factories by Richard, a cynical British mid-level manager with the jovial mien of a sober soccer hooligan; his jokes become increasingly bitter once the factory begins to leak violations like an oil tanker that’s hit an iceberg. As in your typical Chinese factory, conditions are substandard and many workers earn about enough a month to download a P. Diddy ringtone (the underlying problem, indentured servitude, is never discussed). Balmes focuses on the forced implementation of corporate responsibility. The subtext is sexual: Not only are these female consultants (one with a major holier-than-thou attitude) telling these guys (Western and Chinese) how to run their plant ethically while remaining competitive, a large percentage of the workers are Chinese girls who will be forced to have abortions if they’re discovered to be pregnant. Balmes frames his film by quoting Milton Friedman – ‘the one and only social responsibility of business is to make profits’ – and A Decent Factory is just as much about the motives of the people asking the questions as those of the people avoiding the answers (Source: Peranson 2005, np link).

[A] frustrating dose of ironic Chinese globalization arrives in ‘A Decent Factory.’ … the documentary follows a pair of Nokia representatives as they investigate a supplier’s factory in Shenzhen. … What they discover is provocative if scarcely surprising: a depressed, underpaid workforce regimented into a system exerting total control of their every social and biological need. Housed in clean but cramped dormitories on the factory grounds, the mostly young women are sustained on vats of bland food and wages equivalent to 20 euros a month. Sex is all but banned; pregnancy results in expulsion or forced abortion. The mind-numbingly repetitive work shifts range from eight hours to 12. None of the workers have contracts. French filmmaker Thomas Balmes largely refrains from commenting on his material, allowing us to draw our own conclusions. Left inconclusive is whether Nokia’s ethical efforts are anything but a public-relations gesture. At the end of their investigation, the women scold the factory managers for their infractions, then jet back to Finland to give Power-Point presentations (Source: Lee 2005, np link).

Inspiration / Process / Technique / Methodology

When I first arrived to Finland in early 2002 my idea was to make a film about Nokia – and Finns behind its success – as a tribe. I wanted to know was there behind this phenomenon some sort of a Finnish or Nordic way of capitalism that would have had more human face on it then the capitalism I knew as a Frenchman. I soon found out that my task was extremely difficult. Finns turned out to be extremely modest people who did not show their emotions which I often found extremely boring. Even the small Finnish town of Nokia with a huge number of old retired Nokia workers turned millionaires with their ancient Nokia shares was a disappointment in respect to my original ideas. Then – through a French Nokia manager – I heard about a Finnish lady who was working, inside Nokia, with an Ethical Pilot Project. Her idea was to visit and audit factories of both Nokia and Nokia’s suppliers around the world in order to learn about the conditions them. I immediately realized that there was something in this process. Something that would deal with globalization, with moral and ethical issues that we as Westerners have to face, and something that would have a process—a story—in it. I started to follow the Finnish lady and the film came from that (Source: Balmès in Anon 2005d, np).

I spent 18 months filming boring Nokia meetings all over the world before I met her. A French director at Nokia told me about this woman who for the last five years had been refusing incentives offered to the management, now worth a lot of money. She was just starting to push the Nokia management to take a new position with ethical issues (before, she had been in charge of the environmental issues). I found it very interesting because it touched on the issue – can you be a capitalist and be ethical at the same time? I was also lucky to be in at the beginning of a process – Hanna was about to do Nokia’s first ever ethical assessment. When I arrived in China no one really knew who I was or what I was doing and this confusion allowed me to film. … I don’t want to make films about issues that oblige me to be too simplistic. I do have testimonies from some of the workers in the film, and Chinese factories are much worse than European ones. But I don’t point this out too much, because to me this isn’t the focus of the film. I even thought about only filming from the side of the factory managers because it’s not a film that is trying to describe workers’ conditions. I wanted it to be about more than us feeling bad about how workers were being exploited. It questions how much you can hold on to your ideals. Finland is the most advanced country in the world in terms of social welfare and equality. Nevertheless, when the biggest company in the country needs to be global then they have to play the game the American way. That’s the main point of the film – how can you resist? Especially when you are being traded every day in New York, 90% of the ownership is based in the United States, and they keep you on the leash and don’t allow you big margins on how you should behave (Source: Thomas Balmes in Anon 2005e, np link).

Discussion

… this is essential viewing for people remotely interested in more than the uniqueness of their polyphonic ring tone (Source: Low 2006, np).

Nokia’s bosses want to know whether using this factory will help or harm its business. But there’s certainly some ambiguity. And one director asks his colleagues openly: ‘Does Nokia really want to commit itself to improve conditions, or simply improve its own image?’ That’s never really answered here. Nokia does, however, send environmental-ethical expert Hanna Kaskinen and Louise Jamison, an English business ethics consultant, to the factory to see whether conditions are to the satisfaction of their company. Balmes and crew tag along. What follows is a tightly controlled guided tour through a modern factory in which we notice cramped dormitory accommodation for the workers, some minor infractions easily corrected, Chinese managers debating which account books to show the visitors, and some Dickensian stories of workers fined for petty misdemeanours. But this is not so much a trip through obvious sweatshop horrors, more one about the effect of committed consumer activism on big business (Source: Courtis 2006, p.3).

You cannot sex up corporate responsibility. Unless, of course, you start a documentary on the subject with three naked businessmen talking trade in a hot tub somewhere in the woods outside Helsinki. Gratuitous full-frontal nudity and milky-white tan lines aside, French director Thomas Balmes has a tough task with this exploration of the struggle of Finnish mobile phone giant Nokia to be both a profitable and ethical company. With its subtitles and single handheld camera shoot, Nokia: A Decent Factory is a visually beige film to watch. However, it does have its lighter moments. Enter Hanna Kaskinen, a Scandinavian tree hugger so green she has a fetish for fire extinguishers. Kaskinen is an ethical specialist, hired by Nokia to test the moral standards in one of its factories — aka sweatshops — in Shenzhen, China, in January 2003. But there is no character more entertaining than Middle Manager, an English-speaking boss who gets caught out cooking the pay books and in turn violating labour laws. As he says, they don’t get employees to sign a contract because that would make the crap pay and equally bad food in the cafeteria illegal. Good point. In the end, Kaskinen praises the sweatshop for its transparency and quality of record keeping. But one quickly remembers a phone conversation between Shop Floor Supervisor and Middle Manager. ‘Which books shall we show them?’ Shop Floor Supervisor asks. ‘Should we let you check the one we show them before giving it to them.’ Back at Nokia HQ in Helsinki, our tree huggers cut loose and are a bit more forthcoming in their criticism of the factory to their bosses. While the factory complies with the recommendations, the whole exercise seems to have been more about public relations spin than ethical responsibility. The excuse of cultural clashes is lame, with the main problem identified as the different working cultures to those of the Nokia values, whatever they are. Kaskinen is not happy. She leaves the company and heads for the snowfields where she continues her mission to save the world by picking up dog poo while skiing. ‘I’m tired of fighting windmills,’ she laments (Source: Lion, 2006, p.40).

In the carefully captioned A Decent Factory, viewers painstakingly follow the probing eye of filmmaker Balmes as two agenda-driven “ethics analysts” undertake an “in-depth ethics audit” of a Nokia-owned factory in the Peoples Republic of China (PRC). Though local laws are the stated benchmark for determining a successful outcome to the audit, the frequent references to EU/U.S. health/labor/environmental standards indicate that the implied measures are the latter’s rather than the former’s. Indeed, during the interviews, were workers ever asked if they would prefer to work in the Nokia-run factory or the typical alternative, a Third World government-operated factory not subject to outside scrutiny and known for its human rights violations? While applauding with one hand living/working conditions, the auditors blithely ignore the human rights issues of the host nation, e.g., forced abortions. A Decent Factory does a decent job of depicting the Nokia factory; however, media librarians could almost visit PRC for the price of the video (Source: Spillman 2005, p.127).

… a cinematic olive branch to business-bashers—a documentary about a corporate giant (Finnish phone maker Nokia) trying to atone for its profit-seeking excesses. But in a 79-minute public relations attempt gone horribly wrong, the rapacious capitalist is reborn as something arguably worse: the righteous fool. …  ‘How much do we want to change the world?’ one Nokia manager asks during a slideshow presentation, ‘…or do we want to make illusion that we are clean?’ Hanna Kaskinen, Nokia’s ‘ethical and environmental specialist,’ does not have a ready answer to that particular question. She just knows the companies who sell Nokia phones to text-happy kids don’t want their product “stained with the blood of the children from Southeast Asia.’ … The women (described as “very reliable, very low maintenance” by one of the factory’s managers) are just backdrop; we learn virtually nothing of their lives, of the hukou system that limits their options, of their plans for their future and whether cutting charger cable in Shenzhen will help them get there. Instead, we follow Hanna and her coterie as they whisk their way through room after room of bored young women. Kaskinen, trotting behind an increasingly irritated British manager, doesn’t know what she is doing there. She transitions from tourist (’6000 kilometres of cables a week!’ the manager enthuses), to human rights crusader (‘I hope they are not just wearing those masks for us’), to public relations maven (‘it’s really a business risk’) and diplomat (‘That’s very honest of you!’). In the workers’ cafeteria, staring into what appears to be a garbage can full of broth, she exclaims, ‘In fact, it looks delicious!’ … The embodiment of a corporation deeply confused about its mission, Kaskinen comes off a chattering hypocrite. She vacillates between PR guru, which is what she is, and human rights activist, which she has neither the expertise nor the will to pull off. She’s not pacing the halls, clearly, for the woman placing parts on the assembly line, but for the ethics-conscious consumer back in Finland. But until she can admit that she is speaking for consumers (and after their cash), she can’t make precise demands to justify the ‘ethical assessment’ they’re calling for. Her problem isn’t, as Balmes implies, that she is concerned about the bottom line, but that she has no idea what matters when it comes to that line. The workers (more than 90 percent of them women) are paid less than minimum wage, but that’s because of deductions for housing. They aren’t abused, but they don’t have contracts. The hours are long, but, according to Jamison, not ‘extreme overtime.’ From a P.R. perspective, what flies? When you’re marketing human decency, which inequities matter? Despite the confusion, the factory is clearly a better place for Nokia having taken an interest. A promise of contracts is extracted, there are small raises to be had. There is the sense that someone is watching the foremen watching the women. Balmes precedes the film’s first sequence with Milton Friedman’s line, ‘The social responsibility of business is to increase its profits,’ and the implication throughout the film is that profit-seeking capitalists will never change. Of course, nothing in the CSR creed says they have to. If good standards sell, everyone wins, even as Hollywood pumps out an ever-expanding cast of capitalist villains. Yet unless cause-conscious businesses can stop apologizing and start marketing, CSR will play out as a farce rather than a success story (Source: Howley 2005, np link).

This, in part, is what makes this movie interesting. It illustrates why business ethics (or at least the ethics of supply chain management) is so challenging. Foot-stomping criticism of brutal sweatshop labour is easy. Cases like the one shown in A Decent Factory are much harder. Grey areas where things aren’t perfect and improvement is possible-but-not-easy demand thoughtful problem-solving and a serious commitment to improving (rather than perfecting) performance and having better, rather than worse, answers at hand when called to account (Source: Macdonald 2006, np link).

The bosses evidently think the resulting film is going to be a sort of training video, which is presumably why the director, Thomas Balmes, and his crew were admitted. When management learns that the film was commissioned by television companies and that it is destined for broadcast, there is discomfort. We are not told if the film was censored by the factory owners, but it certainly doesn’t seem constricted. As far as the workers’ comments are concerned, the only complaint we hear is about the food, which they find poor. They often slip out at night to buy food. And one woman reports a fight that another of the women had with a rough-tongued female supervisor. The one true grievance we do not hear from any of the women: we learn it from one of the bosses in a matter-of-fact way. The average pay is only about half the legal minimum wage. The factory had been built in China because labor is cheap, and it is being further cheapened. When the inspectors later report this fact back in Finland, management promises to do something about it. As the film progresses, expectation of exposé dwindles. Half salary is hardly a trifling matter, but the factory seems well enough run and is apparently a haven for some of the young women whose homes are a lot less attractive. Why, then, is the picture chilling? Because it is a calm reminder of an inevitability. The sight of long lines of young women doing tiny bits of attachment work or packing hour after hour, day after day, is saddening. The fact that the factory conditions are decent, as the title says wryly, makes it even sadder. Marx said that the alienation of labor – the gap between the worker and his work – is an evil of capitalism, but this is too limited: factories like this one flourish everywhere under every system. Marx’s percept is not a charge against a system but a condition of modernity. Thousands of factories around the world where the attaching and packing go on and on – it’s like Chaplin’s Modern Times without Charlie (Source: Kaufmann, 2005 p.22).

Ethical capitalism may sound like an oxymoron to some, but that concept is a linchpin of the nonfiction feature ‘A Decent Factory.’ A cursory, irritatingly facile look at the human cost of globalization, the film was shot and directed by a Frenchman, Thomas Balmes, who tagged along with representatives of the Finnish cellphone giant Nokia on a trip to one of the company’s suppliers in China. Mr. Balmes’s underwhelming revelations in particular about that country’s fusion of capitalism and communism — workers are underpaid! — will surprise only those who have never picked up a newspaper or wondered why everything now seems to be made in China. Mr. Balmes … operates his video camera in the style of traditional direct cinema, eschewing synchronous and supplemental narration … This walk-through reaps no revelations; the workers look bored out of their minds, which is exactly what you would expect. For her part, Ms. Jamison looks simultaneously pleased and alarmed when she discovers some chemicals stored next to the workers’ water supply. Pouncing on this infraction, she explains the violation to one of the factory representatives, who soon orders a flunky to haul the chemicals off to the kitchen. That exchange is good for an ugly laugh, but more sobering is the revelation that probationary workers earn about $1 a day. What this actually means to these mostly anonymous human cogs remains unknown. A few workers speak on camera, largely to complain about the food and an abusive forewoman, but for the most part they appear as incidental to Mr. Balmès’s purposes as to Nokia’s (Source: Dargis 2005, np link).

This hands-off approach by Balmès eventually threatens to leach anything that might’ve been of value in DF. He isn’t filming hippos wallowing in the Hwang Ho for the National Geographic, after all. No need to showboat like Michael Moore in his more recent efforts, but at least Balmès should’ve nudged the Nokia pair into being more aggressive for the sake of his documentary (Source: tipu 2006, np link).

Though the weight remains on the side of the interrogators, don’t be too sure Balmes hasn’t uncovered this century’s latest twist on exploitation: ethical colonialism (Source: Peranson 2005, np link).

Impacts / Outcomes

At the end of the film, we learn that Kaskinen, frustrated with her inability to get Big Business to do the right thing, has quit her job to work for an NGO, where she believes she can make a “meaningful difference.” In the final scene, we see her, while skiing with her daughter, bend down to clean up after her dog. The message? This model citizen is doing her part to keep the environment pristine. Early in A Decent Factory, she expresses excessive embarrassment that her business cards are not made from recyclable paper. This is righteous narcissism, an obsession with one’s sense of goodness (Source: Pimentel 2005, np link).

In the end, Hanna left Nokia to become a nurse – she decided to act not globally, but locally in her village hospital. I think the fact that she did that is quite revealing (Source: Thomas Balmes in Anon 2005e, np link).

Over the years, I’ve worked for a wide range of clients including BT, IKEA, Marks & Spencer, Mothercare, Next, Nokia, SABMiller and Virgin. The knowledge and skills I’ve developed working for companies like these puts me in an ideal position to help your business. My role is essentially that of a coach. I work with your team to build skills and confidence, to develop practical tools to reduce the company’s impact and to influence others to do the same. My ultimate aim is to help you build a sustainable business (Source: Jamison nd, np link).

Sources and further reading

Anon (2005a) A decent factory. Icarusfilms.com (http://icarusfilms.com/new2005/dec.html last accessed 4 April 2011)

Anon (2005b) A decent factory. filmforum.org (www.filmforum.org/films/decent.html last accessed 4 April 2011)

Anon (2005c) A decent factory (2005). rottontomatoes.com (www.rottentomatoes.com/m/decent_factory last accessed 4 April 2011)

Anon (2005d) A decent factory: press kit. Icarusfilms.com (http://icarusfilms.com/press/pdfs/dec_pk.pdf last accessed 4 April 2011)

Anon (2005e) Director interview: Thomas Balmes. bbc.co.uk 3 February (www.bbc.co.uk/bbcfour/documentaries/storyville/thomas-balmes.shtml last accessed 2 March 2011)

Anon (2010) ‘A decent factory’: more information. 23rd International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam 17-28 November (www.idfa.nl/industry/tags/project.aspx?id=044c504b-df88-4b40-80a5-ca7aa7e19406 last accessed 2 March 2011)

Bernard, S.C. (2009) Documentary storytelling: making stronger and more dramatic nonfiction films. London: Focal Press (film discussed on p.296-7)

Courtis, B. (2006) ‘Bad’ business not a good call: television preview. The Age (Melbourne) April 20, p.3

Dargis, M. (2005) When preaching globalized ethics is just corporate P.R. New York Times 29 June (http://movies.nytimes.com/2005/06/29/movies/29dece.html?_r=1 last accessed 2 March 2011)

Fougère, M. & Solitander, N. (2009) Against corporate responsibility: critical reflections on thinking, practice, content and consequences. Corporate social responsibility and envrironmental management 16(4), 217-227 (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/csr.204/abstract last accessed 2 March 2011)

Fraser, N. (2005) Storyville: ‘Made in China’. bbc.co.uk June (www.bbc.co.uk/bbcfour/documentaries/storyville/made-in-china.shtml last accessed 2 March 2011)

Howley (2005) Market failure or marketing failure? A Decent Factory slams corporate social responsibility. reason.com 5 July (http://reason.com/archives/2005/07/05/market-failure-or-marketing-fa last accessed 2 March 2011)

Islam, R. (2005) A decent factory. Educational media reviews online 9 August (http://libweb.lib.buffalo.edu/emro/emroDetail.asp?Number=2075 last accessed 2 March 2011)

Jamison, L. (nd) Who? jamison-consulting.co.uk (www.jamison-consulting.co.uk/?con=who last accessed 4 April 2011)

Kaufmann, S. (2005) Foolery and factory. The new republic 4 July, p.22

Lee, N. (2005) The world is not enough. New York Sun 1 July, p.15 (www.nysun.com/arts/world-is-not-enough/16420/ last accessed 2 March 2011)

Lion, P. (2006) Putting ethics on the line. The Courier Mail (Australia) April 20, p.40

Low, L.A. (2006) A clash between corporate power and the Third World that only Inspector Rex could solve. Sydney Morning Herald (Australia) April 20

Macdonald, C. (2006) Movie review: A decent factory. businessethics.com 6 July (http://businessethicsblog.com/2006/07/06/movie-review-a-decent-factory/ last accessed 2 March 2011)

Nokia (nd) Nokia standards for factory labour conditions. nokia.com (www.nokia.com/corporate-responsibility/employees/labor-practices/factory-labor-conditions/nokia-standards-for-factory-labour-conditions  last accessed 2 March 2011)

Peranson, M. (2005) How to make lots of money while keeping a clean conscience. Village voice (New York) 5 July (www.villagevoice.com/2005-06-21/film/how-to-make-lots-of-money-while-keeping-a-clean-conscience/ last accessed 2 March 2011)

Pevere, G. (2005) The facts’ fascinating faces. Toronto Star 22 April

Pimentel, L. (2005) A decent factory. popmatters.com 22 July (www.popmatters.com/film/reviews/d/decent-factory-2005.shtml last accessed 2 March 2011)

Scheib, R. (2005) A decent factory. Variety 11 July, p.24

Spillman, N. (2005) A decent factory. Library Journal Reviews 15 August, p.127

tipu (2006) Decent factory. epinions.com 2 October (www.epinions.com/review/mvie_mu-1148051/content_215151709828 last accessed 2 March 2011)

Other resources

Search “Nokia in China” on Nokiaconversations: the official Nokia blog for Nokia-made films about Nokia cell-phone manufacturing in China (link). “Nokia in China” films began to be posted on YouTube in January 2010.

One response

kbapril (20:19:14):

Some reviewers don’t seem to get Balmes’s work. There’s a nice interview with him where he gives his perspective on this and other films he’s made in corporate settings at www.radioopensource.org/thomas-balmes-on-documentary-democracy/

Compiled by Thirii Myint and Chris Lee, edited and posted by Jeff Bauer and Ian Cook (last updated April 2011). Page created for followthethings.com as part of the ‘Anthropologies of global connection’ course, Brown University.