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The Globalization Trilogy Series
China Blue

A clandestinely shot, deep-access account of how the clothes we buy are actually made.

A printer-friendly version of this page 88 minutes
Directed by Micha X. Peled
Produced by Teddy Bear Films
Associate Producer: Song Chen
Editor: Manuel A. Tsingaris
Composer: Miriam Cutler
A Co-Production of Teddy Bear Films and the Independent Television Service (ITVS) with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting

"Heartbreaking, truly unforgettable" Gerald Peary, The Boston Phoenix
Note: CHINA BLUE can also be purchased for personal use only and for use by activist groups and religious organizations. Send your request for pricing information to or call us at (800) 543-3764.

Like no other film before, China Blue is a powerful and poignant journey into the harsh world of sweatshop workers. Shot clandestinely, this is a deep-access account of what both China and the international retailers don't want us to see: how the clothes we buy are actually made.

Following a pair of denim jeans from birth to sale, China Blue links the power of the U.S. consumer market to the daily lives of a Chinese factory owner and two teenaged female factory workers. Filmed both in the factory and in the workers' faraway village, this documentary provides a rare, human glimpse at China's rapid transformation into a free market society.

China Blue is the second film in Micha X. Peled's Globalization Trilogy. Store Wars: When Wal-Mart Comes to Town focuses on consumption in the U.S., and China Blue investigates the manufacturing of the clothes we all consume. Bitter Seeds looks at the raw materials. It goes to India and follows the farmers growing the cotton exported to China's garment factories to be used for the clothes sold in the West. Each film explores a deeper layer of the production-consumption chain.

Grade Level: 10 - 12, College, Adult
US Release Date: 2006     Copyright Date: 2005
DVD ISBN: 1-59458-528-8     VHS ISBN: 1-59458-527-X

"China Blue lends itself to sparking classroom discussion because the story it tells is both crystal-clear and complex. The camera team got amazing access, so we feel in touch with what is real. And as a result, there are no bad guys. Everyone is trying to survive and succeed. Where is it in the system -- that starts with a factory in China and ends with us as consumers -- that the problems we see are going to be fixed?"
Andrew Nathan, Chair, Department of Political Science, Columbia University

"China Blue puts a human face on the contentious issue of 'cheap Chinese labor.' It shows us the links between the rural and urban areas, the farms and factories in China. Although the work is grueling and bosses often unscrupulous, we do see that the young workers who migrate to the burgeoning industrial zones have unprecedented opportunities to meet people from elsewhere in China, learn about city life and global popular culture. The film makes an excellent tool for stimulating classroom discussion on a broad range of topics impacting not only China, but the rest of the world as well."
Thomas B. Gold, Chair, Department of Sociology, UC-Berkeley, Director, Berkeley China Initiative

"China Blue offers an illuminating window onto the normally hidden worlds of global production. It provides unparalleled access to the everyday lives of garment workers in China, giving them voice, and giving a face to the reality underlying China's emergence as the factory floor to the world. For those interested in globalization, economic development, or current controversies around sweatshops, China Blue is an excellent introduction to the experiences of workers from developing countries - even those supposedly 'winning' through globalization."
Dara O'Rourke, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Environmental and Labor Policy, University of California at Berkeley

"For those who are interested in women's labor and its social and political implications within a broader framework of economic globalization, [the film] provide[s] a good grip on the topic."
Yasmin Cho, Films for the Feminist Classroom

"Anyone who watches this movie...cannot help but gain some greater insight into what 'holism' and 'globalization' mean in the modern world. Not only are other aspects of Chinese society changing as it's economy changes...but the changes in China are being felt in the West and vice versa...Hopefully, American viewers of this film will think more critically about the jeans they wear, their own industrial history, the phenomenon of globalization, and the human cost of providing goods at ever-lower prices."
David Eller, Metropolitan State College of Denver, Anthropology Review Database

"This eye-opening documentary will have particular value for students of sociology, Asian studies, and economics. Jasmine's plight can serve as an excellent springboard for discussions about women's and worker's rights and the economic responsibility of American consumers."
School Library Journal

"China Blue is a revealing and quite moving inside look at China's emerging capitalist system that should make Western viewers think twice about the human cost of buying apparel with 'made in China' labels. Recommended."
Video Librarian

"We may know that our jeans are made in sweatshops in China, but this poignant and well-documented film makes us see the whole picture...[China Blue] should be seen by all audiences. Highly Recommended."
Library Journal

"Does an excellent job of illustrating the 'human face' of globalization, and specifically the often-concealed linkages between people at different ends of a commodity chain...Teachers interested in discussing how commodity chains work in practice will make their task much easier, and more relevant to students, by showing China Blue...Suitable for both the university and high school classroom; since the film's central characters are teenagers, high school students can especially relate to the story and are likely to be captivated by the differences between their own lives and the difficult lives depicted in China Blue."
Asian Educational Media Service

"A twenty-first century version of sweatshops, this is more than just the plight of three young women who work and live in the blue jeans factory. It is about the impact of the consumer market upon the lives of people across the globe. Recommended for high school students and other consumers who have a social conscience."
Educational Media Reviews Online

"China Blue is more than an exercise in cinematic activism...the film develops a natural dramatic structure that's profoundly affecting. Mr. Peled doesn't just record the girl's indignities, he listens to their dreams...China Blue examines the plight of the world's largest pool of cheap labor and traces its exploitation to a retail outlet near you."
The New York Times

"Heartbreaking, moving...This is an unforgettable film."
The San Francisco Chronicle

"Micha X. Peled's marvelous documentary about the young women who work in a Chinese jeans factory is an empathetic and revealing study. With probing access and a level of detail similar films have failed to obtain, the film doesn't just describe the tough working conditions of these factories - it draws vigorous, charming portraits of the women who work there. This is one of the best of many recent documentaries about globalization."
New York Magazine

"Heartbreaking yet boldly essential...fairly balanced and richly human."
The Seattle Times

" the phrase 'sweatshop' a whole different perspective."
Miami Herald

"The tacit fury of China Blue."
Richard Corliss, Time Magazine

"What if, when you stuck your hand into the pocket of a new pair of brand-name jeans, you pulled out a letter from one of the exploited workers who had slaved and sweated over your denim? Would you be surprised if the writer acted more curious than angry? Would you chuckle when she wondered why you need such tall, wide pants? That's the experience of watching China Blue...Refreshing."
The Boston Globe

"A riveting documentary...A heart-wrenching story of the exploitation of young optimism and energy by...the desire for profit. See it before you head off to the mall for that clothing sale."
The Martin Pacific Sun

"Intimate and rigorously detailed...remarkable level of access and the complex portrait of globalization as an intractable beast that relies on consumer complicity in viewing foreign laborers as subhuman."
Time Out New York

"Eye opening...[filmmaker] Peled was harassed at every turn by Chinese officials, but he managed to get this shocking film made. That's just one reason China Blue is worthy of praise."
New York Post

"Surprisingly gives its heart and soul to the girls."
The Nation

"There's a terrible irony to the designer jeans uniformly worn by teenage laborers featured in China Blue, Micha X. Peled's meticulously livid exposé of a sweatshop in Southern China."
Village Voice, SF Weekly

"Bay Area documentarian Micha X. Peled got unprecedented access to a blue jeans factory...It's a vérité portrait of adolescents who are instantly recognizable, though their sweatshop environs strike us as nearly unendurable."
The San Francisco Bay Guardian

"Pic's degree of access and intimacy is surprising, even more so when closing intertitles reveal Chinese authorities did try to shut down the filmmakers several times...Engaging in character and narrative terms...Much of China Blue is charming, because its subjects are...Micha Peled's docu China Blue makes a stronger case against worker exploitation than any news item could."
Daily Variety

"The Best Documentary of Toronto 2005? Micha Peled's China Blue, a heartbreaking, truly unforgettable 'cinema verite' stay with two teenage girls employed in a Chinese bluejean factory. It's even worse than the news stories, the exploitation, degradation, and downright slavery of millions of Chinese peasants who have traveled to the cities looking for work."
Gerald Peary, The Boston Phoenix

"An intimate and eye-opening look into the personal lives of sweatshop workers...The film is an unflinching indictment of globalization."
The Marin Independent Journal

"It is difficult, but necessary, to watch China Blue. For those who take shopping for consumer goods for granted...this behind-the-scenes look at how one popular item is produced will leave you chilled...China Blue is a must-see."
Film Journal International

"China Blue can burst through the typical abstract depiction of this problem in order to confront its human dimension. It's a shocking experience."
The L Magazine

"Without (Chinese) government knowledge or approval, San Francisco filmmaker Micha X. Peled shot a stunningly candid portrait of the lively teenagers who make blue jeans."
Release Print

"Commendable in its fair depiction of the problems faced by the textile industry."
Seattle Post Intellingencer

"It may be the Year of the Pig in the Chinese calendar, but there ought to be some recognition of the Year of the Bullfrog in honor of Bullfrog Films...Bullfrog has a real treasure in China Blue...This is where Western manufacturing jobs have fled, dear Wal-Mart shoppers, and here are the peasants that big-business advocates claim are uplifted by globalization...See China Blue, any way you can, in this aptly named Year of the Pig."
The Cleveland Free Times

"A compelling film that lets us live inside the world of the people - mainly young Chinese women - who make the majority of the jeans we all wear every day...The mere fact that likely every single person benefits from the labor and minimal salaries of these women makes the film important for all to see, especially teenagers."
Jury Citation, Vermont International Film Festival

"Micha X. Peled knows that if the world is connected by some common thread, that thread is being stitched by an underpaid worker in a sweatshop in a hemisphere away...China Blue [is] an intimate and eye-opening look into the personal lives of sweatshop workers."
The Oakland Tribune

"There's a terrible the designer jeans uniformly worn by the teenage laborers featured in China Blue, Micha X. Peled's meticulously livid expose of a sweatshop in southern China."
Seattle Weekly

"Micha X. Peled's documentary is shockingly thorough...and highly provoking...It may be close to impossible to mandate responsible capitalism, but China Blue shows us exactly what's at stake."
The Stranger

"China Blue is...designed to make Westerners face the fact that their relatively high standard of living comes at the expense of the virtually-enslaved indigenous peoples of the Third World...Excellent (4 stars)."
Kam Williams, New York Film Critics Online

"[A film] you'll kick yourself for missing...[China Blue] will haunt your future shopping trips, which is actually a good thing."
Missoula Independent

"China Blue is a gut check for anyone who doesn't know about labor conditions inside China...Thinking about the consequences of our consumer choices isn't easy, but Peled's story of Chinese factory workers makes us confront the connection between our cheap goods and their toil."
Students For A Free Tibet

"Eye-opening, infuriating -- and heartbreaking...China Blue asks us to look hard, without the intercession of cheery marketing and attractive prices: These are the exploited children behind the clothes we buy, wear and discard so cavalierly."
Pittsburgh City Paper

"China Blue exposes the hard truth of physical labor in our modern world of worker's rights and progress."
Daily Nebrasken

"Enough to make you feel more than a little guilty every time you put on a pair of jeans...But, more importantly, it focuses on an issue - workers' rights and the need for fair pay - that is overlooked in go-go-go globalism with heart and intensity."
Lincoln Journal Star

"No matter where your denim was cut, stitched, and stone-washed, you owe it to your conscience to view China Blue, a documentary that will make you squirm out of your pants."
The Press Rebublican

"[China Blue] emerges as a charming character study heavily laced with strong damnations rather than grating with the activist agitprop stylings that so often cloud well-meaning tales of sorrow."
Green Cine

"There's a new breed of documentary film that is trying to tear down the distance between what you own and the lives of the people who made it for you and China Blue...does so with considerable warmth."
North Adams Transcript

"Peled captures the delicate balance between workers, retailers, and consumers...A powerful examination of the hidden costs behind every bargain."
Columbus Alive

"It's a globalization nightmare."
The Courier-Journal

"If you need a good argument to look for a MADE IN USA label on your next clothes purchase, see China Blue for a sobering economic lesson."
The Herald

"The rapid growth of China's economy is often noted, but rarely are the personal stories of the workers who fuel it...[China Blue] poignantly reveals the human price we pay for 'cheap' labor."
Sojourner Magazine

"This sweet yet heartbreaking documentary about the young Chinese girls who make blue jeans is the kind of film Bullfrog [Films] embraces. It has the power to change the world...A daring, compassionate documentary."
Reading Eagle

Foreign Press
"China Blue is a compelling and important documentary. A must see for anyone interested in the appalling conditions in Chinese factories. This is one of the rare films that attracts the general public as well as serves as an effective educational tool. It has been very valuable in my campaigning on human rights and consumer issues. I cannot recommend it highly enough."
Sue Kedgley, Member of Parliament (Green Party), New Zealand

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DVDs include public performance rights.

DVD Features
Includes additional scenes, study guide, factory promo film, Q & A with the director, photo gallery, links to activist organizations.

Film trailer (Quicktime format)
Study guide

Awards and Festivals
Audience Award Winner, PBS Independent Lens
Silver Chris Award, Columbus International Film & Video Festival
Amnesty Human Rights Award, International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (IDFA)
Award of Excellence, Society for Visual Anthropology, American Anthropological Association
Nominated, Joris Ivens Award, IDFA
CINE Golden Eagle
Silver Plaque, HUGO Television Awards, Chicago International Film Festival
Honorable Mention, Vancouver International Film Festival
Best Documentary, International Independent Film Festival of Mar del Plata, Argentina
Honorable Mention, Vermont International Film Festival
Special Mention, Cinemabiente Environmental Film Festival, Torino, Italy
Toronto International Film Festival
Opening Night Film, Human Rights Film Festival in Seoul, South Korea
Full Frame Documentary Film Festival
Margaret Mead Film Festival
ZagrebDox (Croatia) International Documentary Film Festival
One World (Prague) International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival
Thessaloniki (Greece) International Film Festival
San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival
Bermuda International Film Festival
It's All True International Documentary Film Festival, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Hong Kong International Film Festival
Calgary Imagine Asian Film Festival
EDOC International Documentary Film Festival, Ecuador
Warsaw Planete Doc Review, Poland
Crakow (Poland) International Film Festival
Jerusalem International Film Festival
New Zealand International Film Festival
Mill Valley Film Festival
Hawaii International Film Festival
CPH:DOX International Documentary Film Festival, Copenhagen
Dallas Video Festival
Big Sky Documentary Film Festival
Toronto Sprockets Film Festival
Films from the South (Oslo)
Discovery-Scotland's International Film Festival for Children
Filmfest Hamburg
3-Continental Film Festival (South Africa)
Cork (Ireland) International Film Festival
Nazareth (Israel) International Film Festival
Rocky Mountain Women's Film Festival
DocsLisboa (Portugal)
Tempo (Stockholm) Documentary Film Festival
Beirut Docudays (Lebanon)
Napa Sonoma Wine Country Film Festival
Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival
Green Mountain Film Festival
Amnesty International Film Festival - Vancouver
Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival
Comparative & International Education Society's Spaces of Education in Film Festivalette

Asian Studies
Business Practices
Child Labor
Developing World
Fair Trade
Film Studies
Global Issues
Human Rights
International Studies
Labor and Work Issues
Marketing and Advertising
Political Science

Social Justice
Social Psychology
Urban and Regional Planning
Women's Studies

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... more Reviews

"China Blue presents a powerful testimony of the working conditions in China as well as moving and sensitive portraits of the young workers to whom we owe our 'Made in China' jeans."
Le Monde (France)

"Like some of Micha X. Peled's previous films (Store Wars, Inside God's Bunker), China Blue is primarily a deep-access film."
The Vancouver Sun

"Mr. Peled has achieved some amazing footage of life in the factory...If you were ever curious about the people who make your blue jeans, China Blue is the film for you."
The Royal Gazette (Bermuda)

"At least one woman rushed home to rip up her blue jeans...The measure of a successful big screen documentary is not the facts that it shows us - but how much it make us want to engage with the facts."

"Cleverly constructed and ultimately heart-wrenching...Multi-layered film explores the personalities, aspirations and imaginations of the main characters with sensitivity and tact...Director Micha X. Peled calls into question the whole system of global free trade and points at the responsibility retailers and ourselves - the consumer - all share. In the words of Jasmine: 'Who are the fat, tall people who buy these jeans we make?'"
The Lumiere Reader (New Zealand)

"One of the hottest titles at IDFA this year...Go, see and feel guilty about being a rich European. You know you want to."
IDFA Documentary Film Festival (Amsterdam)

"Shines a light on the inhumane working conditions...Will stay with you."
The Toronto Eye

"Director Micha Peled, whose film Store Wars featured at the Festival in 2002, continues his information campaign against America's massive Wal-Mart chain by taking a very close look at who is manufacturing their jeans."
Realto Cinemas (New Zealand)

"Sixteen-year-old Jasmine is a thread-cutter at the Lifeng Factory, one of dozens of denim manufacturers in Shaxi, South China. As she puts it, she makes the 'big and fat' jeans we wear. Like her new friends at the factory - Liping, a seamstress, and Orchid, a zipper installer - Jasmine is one of hundreds of millions of people, mostly young women, who make up the largest pool of cheap labor in the world...Shot clandestinely, China Blue paints a nuanced, thorough and ultimately moving portrait of the daily lives of the anonymous young workers who make our clothes...[while also] illuminat[ing] the economic pressures applied by Western companies and their human consequences...Contrary to the notion that these girls offer a pliant, obedient work force, the film reveals glimpses of an emerging activism: a bold willingness, as Jasmine asserts, 'to pull the Tiger's whiskers.' Coming into a sense of self-worth, Jasmine sends a gentle message to the West in the pocket of a pair of jeans. Tempering the giddy, greedy imperatives of the market, China Blue offers remarkable access into the other new China."
Sean Farnel, Toronto International Film Festival

"China Blue...presents a revealing look into the daily lives of teenage girls who work long (often unpaid) hours...How must does a pair of jeans really cost? It's clear that costs involved in producing one pair of jeans ought not be measured in mere currency."
The Asian Reporter

"Film director Micha Peled hopes shopping will never be the same again for people who see his new film, China Blue."
Dominion Post (New Zealand)

"Once you see China Blue you may never want to but another pair of Levi's or jeans again...What [the filmmakers] developed is a documentary that takes the viewer, by the hand, into the lives of exploited workers."
El Tecolote Newspaper

"China Blue is instructive, fascinating and a sad commentary on the economic times. At age 14 or 16, teens in America are cruising the mall looking for jeans. At 14 or 16, teens in China are making them and dreaming about who will be wearing them on the other side of the world."

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