Review: Factory Boss

film reviews | movies | features | BRWC Review: Factory Boss

A few years ago a colleague said to me, God punishes people by casting them into the manufacturing business. I didn’t understand it then, but I do now. So begins the introduction to the life of Mr Lin (Yao Anlian), in the once-thriving industrial town of Shenzhen in Southeast China. Placing the story against the background of 2010, when the Global Economic Crisis was sweeping throughout the world, Lin is faced with an economical and moral dilemma. His toy manufacturing business is in threat of imminent closure. He has made a lot of money in the past, which means he now employs close to 700 people, providing his workers with both work and housing. Under intense pressure to avoid bankruptcy Lin has to choose between accepting a contract with an American company for a large order, creating immense financial risk for himself, but saving jobs for his staff; or selling his factory and forcing his staff into unemployment. The film’s lead actor, Yao Anlian, deservedly won the Best Actor Award at the 2014 Montréal Film Festival.

Factory Boss is Chinese director Zhang Wei’s second film.

« It took me six years to prepare for this film. This film was initially called Made in China, but due to the pressures of censorship, among others, the name was changed to Factory Boss, from an English novel entitled Factory Girl concerned with a similar theme. This project was formed in my mind when I was studying directing at the Beijing Film Academy. Having lived in Shenzhen for over 20 years, I was compelled to speak up about these important issues which are directly linked to the accelerated development of the Chinese economy. The inspiration behind Factory Boss is the exposition of the harsh survival conditions of SMEs (small manufacturing enterprises) in the delta region of the Pearl River, around Shenzhen, following the reform and the opening of the country to international business over 30 years ago. »

Similar to the story behind the film are the 2007 Foxconn incidents, when media described this leading Shenzhen-based private enterprise as a “sweatshop,” causing the company to lose orders from Apple in the US. Though the company later won its lawsuit against Chinese media, the constant suicides of Foxconn workers kept the company firmly in the public’s attention.

This is a well-written timely film that deals with a contemporary problem. In this era of fast-fashion, worker-suicide, no sweatshops and ethical trade, are the people who build the goods produced by the billionaire companies actually being looked after by the ones who cut the deals?

To find out more, director Zhang Wei will join audiences to discuss the film in more detail at the Regent Street Cinema on 26 February for the European premiere of his film.  

Factory Boss will be making its European Premiere as a part of Asia House Film Festival at Regent Street Cinema on Friday 26 February, 18.30. Asia House Film Festival takes place from 22 February to 5 March at London venues

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An Australian who has spent most of her adult life in Paris, Louise is a sometime photographer, documentary-maker, writer, researcher, day-dreamer and interviewer, who prefers to start the day at the local cinema’s 9am session.


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