The Cotton Film: Dirty White Gold: Crowdfunding to Make a Difference

UPDATE: The funds for this film-making project have been raised!

Documentary journalist Leah Borromeo is raising funds to make a film, Dirty White Gold, about fashion and its real victims. She’s on a mission – she wants to make ethics and sustainability in the fashion industry the norm, not the exception, by making the supply chain transparent.  And she’s on a journey to find out how to make this happen.

The journey begins with nearly 300,000 Indian farmers who have killed themselves to escape debt. At one point, up to 26 per day – a shocking reality! They are the price we pay for cheap cotton – trapped in a cycle of debt, brought about as a result of the industrialisation of their livelihoods. Some kill themselves by drinking the pesticides with which they farm.

The film trailer below gives a brief insight.

At the heart of the full-length film will be the human stories of the people who work the fields. Leah follows the thread of our clothing from seed to shop – from farmers to brokers and bankers to the factories and manufacturers, through to the labels we love to wear.

She’ll show the environmental and social impact of the intense use of pesticides, will engage in the debate around genetically modified seed, investigate the concept of fair trade, explore the viability of organic cotton and probe the structures that make the rich rich and the poor poor. She’ll emphasise the need for traceability and accountability in the fashion industry.

And here’s the question: When we bag a bargain, who pays for it? The journey ends with us – and what we can do to not just look good, but do good too.

So, this is a campaigning film, but not one which hits you with a worthy stick. Leah’s a trouble-making Situationist journalist and friend to The Yes Men, Reverend Billy and the Space Hijackers. She never does things by halves and so the film will be quirky, funny and have a subversive twist. Think Newsnight meets the Yes Men.

The team behind the film has a good track record in making films which help change the world and, working with NGOs and advocacy groups, devising the distribution and outreach strategies to help achieve this ambition. But they do need to get the funds to get started.

Want to be in on the game? See here. You can make it happen: every £1 you give now will unlock another £3, with GREAT INCENTIVES FOR DONATIONS.

Here’s the financial score: A big private foundation is willing to put in £25,000, but that’s only if Leah’s team can match it. They’ve already raised £10,000 from a film development fund – so need a further £15,000, to make a grand total of £50,000!

And the incentives for donations – a designer T-shirt (in organic cotton) by Barnbrook, a limited edition print from photomontage artist Peter Kennard and, of course, the first DVDs or downloads of the film.

All the money raised will be used to cover the costs of production, develop the project further, hire crews in the UK and in India for upcoming shoots, build partnerships, raise awareness and develop narratives around the issue.

This isn’t a sombre documentary that will throw guilt trips at us. Leah’s team are going into the dark heart of the fashion industry and bringing us stories glossy adverts would rather not show. They have a sense of humour – but it’s also uncomfortable, because they’re not selling rainbows. They’ll make us angry and they want to use that to engage us. They’re serious about changing the playing field so people don’t have to kill themselves to make our clothes. After watching the film they don’t want us to say “oh dear, such poor poor people”. They want us to say “let’s do something about this.”

For the full story and to get involved see here.

This film is a Dartmouth Films production in association with The Cotton Film Company. Dartmouth has a long history of award-winning social change documentaries that really make a difference.