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Death by Design shows destroying effects of technology

Death by design documentary posterConsumers love their smartphones, tablets and laptops – their whole lives are arranged around them, organised with them, dictated by them. By 2020, four billion people will have a personal computer. Five billion will own a mobile phone. But what is the real cost of all this technology? This is a question answered by documentary filmmaker Sue Williams in Death By Design. 

The tech ‘revolution’, as Williams calls it, has a dark side, one that is hidden from most consumers.

Carrying out an investigation that spans the not only the infamous production hubs in China but also Silicon Valley, the state of New York and even Ireland, filmmaker Sue Williams investigates the underbelly of the electronics industry and reveals how even the smallest devices have deadly environmental and health costs.

We all read the stories, we all watch the news and we have seen the downsides of modern production techniques come past. But Williams delivery is plain and simple yet gripping and undeniable. Think cancer through the exposure of chemicals in the production of devices in California – proven by the studies of scientists and the large sums of money paid by the big tech companies who want to silence the truth. And that is a mere ‘common fact’ obtained through the film.

Think the damage of polluted water, gallons of it needed to produce a mere phone. And how about the families living among the heaps of e-waste while it makes its way back to where it was first produced? Fact is, in China and other emerging tech production hubs, it is now cheaper to violate the laws than to comply with the law. Western companies are tapping into this fact simply by making them an offer they can not refuse.

The deeper we dig the more we uncover. Health tragedies, mental health tragedies, environmental tragedies, we promise you won’t quite feel as comfortable as you did in the past swapping your phone for a newer model when your contract is up. In fact, you will swear at the big suppliers for producing you a model that was never made to last but, like its surroundings, it was made to die.

Death by Design is screening at Sheffield Doc/Fest on Saturday 11 June at 9.45am in the Beijing Showroom 1.


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Alexandra Zeevalkink is a Dutch-born journalist living in London who founded DocGeeks in August 2011 in order to have a legitimate excuse to watch every documentary under the sun. She freelances for various publications and writes mainly about documentaries and the film production industry. When she is not blogging or watching films, she enjoys theater, photography and reading loads of books. She is always on the look out for potential partnerships with other creative minds.

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