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Turbulent Waters

An investigation of international shipping practices and the treatment of seafarers.

A printer-friendly version of this page 53 minutes
Closed Captioned

Directed by Malcolm Guy and Michelle Smith
Produced by Malcolm Guy and Germaine Ying Gee Wong
Camera - Claudine Sauve
Editor - Rene Roberge
Executive Producer - Sally Bochner
A National Film Board of Canada Production

"Highly brings to light and makes visual a world too few people are familiar with." EMRO
"Mr. Myles, pick up the phone. Please. This is a very urgent matter."

Myles Parsons gets the call in Vancouver. At the other end of the line is John DeGuzman, a cook onboard a German-owned vessel docked at the French port of Brest. Can Parsons help? The Filipino crew complains of poor food, withheld wages and routine abuse from the Romanian captain.

It's all in a day's work for Myles Parsons, a seasoned seaman and an inspector for the International Transport Federation, fighting for seafarers around the world.

Turbulent Waters takes us below deck to meet the men who toil at the grimy heart of the global economy. Whether it's petroleum, wheat or computer keyboards, over 90% of international trade moves by sea. Yet the men whose labor is the lifeblood of world trade reap few benefits. Every year 2,500 seafarers die on the job. Many work in dangerous conditions on ships flying flags of convenience, a common practice whereby companies register vessels in countries with low labor standards and corporate taxes. Seafarers who speak out are often blacklisted, which can end their careers.

This hard-hitting documentary exposes the reality of international shipping, while giving voice and dignity to the men who risk their lives to bring us the goods we need.

Grade Level: 10-12, College, Adult
US Release Date: 2005     Copyright Date: 2004
DVD ISBN: 0-7722-1170-1     VHS ISBN: 0-7722-1169-8

"Turbulent Waters is an excellent portrayal of the difficult labor conditions experienced by ship workers on ships flying flags of convenience... The film shows the complex difficulties facing seafarers when they are mistreated on ships... If anything, the video understates the dire conditions faced by many ship workers, since the cases shown here are those where the [International Transport Workers Federation] was able to step in to help ship workers in need and, in most of the instances shown, resolve at least some of the problems they faced. It shows the important work that can be done by international inspectors and unions in guaranteeing the rights of those who are hired because few others will come to their defense."
Elizabeth R. DeSombre, Frost Associate Professor of Environmental Studies and Political Science, Wellesley College

"Highly Recommended. The film's strength is its ability to demonstrate the negotiations of the IFT on behalf of the seafarers... Turbulent Waters is an important film because it brings to light and makes visual a world too few people are familiar with; yet in our global era of international shipping, are inseparable from."
Educational Media Reviews Online

DVD $250
DVD $85
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Awards and Festivals
Hot Docs, Canadian International Documentary Film Festival, Toronto
Vancouver International Film Festival

Asian Studies
Business Practices
Conflict Resolution
Global Issues
Human Rights
International Studies
International Trade
Labor and Work Issues
Oceans and Coasts
Social Justice

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