|Truly CA: Our State, Our Stories: "No Sweat" Press Release|
Truly CA documentary NO SWEAT takes a wild ride
into the bowels of the American clothing industry
Premieres on KQED Public Television 9, Sunday, September 25 at 6pm
September 7, 2005, San Francisco, CA --- The glamour of the fashion industry often blinds the public to the common reality behind the scenes: dark and dingy factories where women and children sit hunched over their machines, elbow-to-elbow, working in dangerous conditions for often only pennies an hour. Enter SweatX and American Apparel, two hip, new clothing manufacturers in downtown Los Angeles. Both companies are committed to creating "sweat-free" clothing, by ensuring livable wages, benefits, and safe environments. But while SweatX is backed by $2.5 million in venture capital from Ben and Jerry's ice cream maker Ben Cohen, American Apparel was built from the ground up by the eccentric and controversial entrepreneur, Dov Charney. No Sweat, premiering on KQED 9 on Sunday, September 25 at 6pm, investigates whether these two very different companies can survive in the tight economic conditions that have sent so much of their competition overseas--and which one has the stuff to succeed.
No Sweat follows SweatX and American Apparel for one year, comparing their leadership and business practices, documenting a union drive, and zeroing in on the hopes and dreams of the garment workers themselves. As SweatX struggles to stay afloat by installing new management and changing business strategies, American Apparel is stirring up a storm of controversy. Most recently, company founder Dov Charney has been sued by three former female workers for sexual harassment. Increasing numbers of workers have come forward to talk about the work environment being not necessarily "sweat-shop-free," claiming that American Apparel's pod-system of teams competing against each other translates to employees working at a frantic pace, leaving them more vulnerable to injuries, stress, and sometimes violence at the factory.
Offering a refreshingly honest examination of an industry that is notorious for its exploitation of mostly poor, immigrant women, No Sweat takes a close look at American Apparel and SweatX employees. Enriqueta Soto from SweatX, and Patricia Revolorio, from American Apparel, are key figures in the documentary. Since their appearance in the film, Patricia has bought a house and advanced in her position at American Apparel, while Enriqueta has had to endure the humiliation and emotional toll of SweatXs struggling operations. Her final interview in the film poses the eternal question for all immigrant workers working in sweatshops, both overseas and in the U.S.: Why are these conditions allowed to exist in the first place, when it is clear they are not necessary to making a profit in the apparel industry?
However, as more and more American Apparel retail stores are opened across the U.S. and in Paris, Germany and Mexico City, the larger question becomes one of fashion and convenience. Dov Charney's says, "Its not enough to pay your workers well, you also have to offer a good product, and at the end of the day, that's what sells."
One thing is certain: the popularity of the non-branded, simple T-shirt, made in downtown L.A. is exploding. From panties to politics, feminism to machismo, globalization and Classic T-s, No Sweat is a promiscuous, playful film--the first portrait of the people behind the company producing the next huge American clothing revolution.
No Sweat is part of Truly CA, KQED's new documentary series.
About Truly CA
Truly CA is KQED's new series of independent documentaries about life in the golden state. It airs monthly on Sundays at 6pm on KQED 9. Truly CA is a KQED production presented in association with the Bay Area Video Coalition and Film Arts Foundation. Rachel Raney is the series producer, Sue Ellen McCann is the executive producer.
Truly CA is a KQED production presented in association with the Bay Area Video Coalition and Film Arts Foundation. Funding for Truly CA is provided by the KQED Campaign for the Future Program Venture Fund.
KQED Public Broadcasting operates KQED Public Television 9, one of the nation's most-watched public television stations during prime-time, and KQED's digital television channels, which include KQED HD, KQED Encore, KQED World, KQED Life and KQED Kids; KQED Public Radio, the most-listened-to public radio station in the nation with an award-winning news and public affairs program service (88.5 FM in San Francisco and 89.3 FM in Sacramento); KQED.org, one of the most visited station sites in Public Broadcasting; and KQED Education Network, which brings the impact of KQED to thousands of teachers, students, parents and media professionals through workshops, seminars and resources.
The Bay Area Video Coalition is the nation's largest noncommercial media arts center dedicated to providing access to media, education and technology. BAVC is a production facility, an affordable training center, a pioneer in technology-based workforce development and a critical resource for independent filmmakers.
About Film Arts Foundation
Film Arts Foundation supports the creation and success of independent film and video makers by providing education, comprehensive information, state of the art facilities and equipment, financial support and exhibition opportunities. Film Arts Foundation is a catalyst and advocate for the diverse voices of the independent film community on the West Coast and nationally.