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Synopsis

The documentary The Story of a Panty and of Those Who Make It provides an immersive look into the lives of those who work in the shadow of the textile industry.


The process of making a pair of panties connects Yulduz, a farmer in the Uzbek cotton fields deprived of freedom of expression; Janaki, a young Sumangali spinner who had to leave the school benches for the factory; Mythili, a dyer in India who dreams of becoming a mother; Risma, an activist for the rights of women workers in Indonesia and my mother, Pascale, who runs a small clothing store in Belgium. But since the relocation of factories 30 years ago, she is no longer able to offer clothes 100 % Made in Belgium.


At each stage of its production, from country to country, the story of this panty takes us into the intimacy of the lives of these five women, each one a link in a global production chain. The film questions the value that one gives to the clothes but more importantly to the lives of those who make it.

About the film

Since my childhood, I helped my mom unpack clothes and store them on the shelves of the shop. At that time, the vast majority of the clothes sold were produced in Belgium. Thirty years later, the origin of the clothes took on a more Asian appearance.


Meanwhile, in the West, the trend is over-consumption. Although prices are more democratic, the price of a garment does not correspond to the real cost of its production.


So what’s the real price of a garment, and what are its hidden costs?


The environmental and sanitary cost. In 20 years the production of clothes has doubled. This obviously creates a huge impact on our planet. To keep up with the current demands of the textile sector, all resources must be multiplied. In Uzbekistan, in the early 1960s, the Aral Sea covered an area of 66.458 km2, more than twice the size of Belgium. The intensification of cotton farming, which is very demanding in terms of water, has seen the Aral Sea lose 90% of its surface area. The use of fertilizers and pesticides in agriculture, as well as dozens of toxic chemicals used in dyeing and spinning factories, are disastrous for health and the environment. In India, the number of workers with cancer is increasing, as well as many cases of infertility and children born with disabilities. Most of the clothes we wear contain chemicals that can have adverse health effects.


The human cost. Big brands subcontract their productions in countries with low-cost economy where labor costs almost nothing. Workers are under pressure and are obliged to reach production quotas. The factory managers respond to the directors of major brands, which in turn respond to a growing demand in the West. In Indonesia, workers have joined forces to demand decent minimum wages, better working conditions and, above all, a change in legislation at the national level.


Meanwhile, in Belgium, we face a major problem: the lack of transparency in the textile industry. Whatever the brand, regardless of the price of the product, it is impossible to know whether the garment was produced in good conditions or not.

The Team behind the movie

Stefanne Prijot

Stéfanne Prijot

Director / Writer / Director of Photography

Stéfanne is a Belgian filmmaker and photographer. Through her camera, which she considers as a citizen tool, she tackles themes on gender, water, education and climate change, which she tries to approach with the greatest humanism.

Yann Verbeke

Assistant Director / Director of Photography

Yann travels the world to offer us images as beautiful as touching of the realities he encounters. He is passionate about the light, the colors, the aesthetic and he is sensitive to the emotion he shares with those he meets on his journey.

Yann Verbeke

Festivals

27 - 31 May 2019 : IFF EKOTOPFilm Envirofilm - Bratislava, Slovak Republic

16 May 2019 : Semaine de la Solidarité - Tournai, Belgium

2 May 2019 : Slow Fashion Project - Les Grignoux, Cinéma Caméo - Namur, Belgium

5 April 2019 : Human Rights International Film Festival - Kathmandu, Nepal

23 March 2019 : Festival International du Film Documentaire Millenium - Brussels, Belgium

8 March 2019 : Dames Draaien, Cinema ZED - Leuven, Belgium

27 February 2019 : Athens Fashion Film Festival - Athens, Greece

25 January 2019 : Festival Elles Tournent / Dames Draaien - Brussels, Belgium

19 December 2018 : Avant Première privée au cinéma Galeries - Brussels, Belgium

12 December 2018 : Central Asian Documentary Competition - Almaty, Kazakhstan

Festival International du Film Documentaire MilleniumHuman Rights International Film FestivalAthens Fashion Film FestivalEuropean Cinematography AwardsIFF EKOTOPFilm Envirofilm

Film Credits

  • Director : Stéfanne Prijot
  • Assistant Director : Yann Verbeke
  • Photography : Stéfanne Prijot & Yann Verbeke
  • Editing : Stéfanne Prijot & Yann Verbeke
  • Original Music : Stéphane Parmentier
  • Producers : LEA Productions & GoodPlanet Belgium