Have you ever wondered what became of the first desktop computer you ever had? The slow and noisy printer with its brick-sized cartridges, or the microwave oven you used to watch with impatience as a child, the bag of instant popcorn turning on the crystal plate behind the glass?
Chances are all of them ended up in Ghana, in the world’s largest dump of electronic appliances called Agbogbloshie. Tons of electronic waste arrive every day to be ripped apart, turned into scrap metal and re-sold to European markets. About 6,000 women, men and children live and work there. Ghanaians call it Sodom. It is one of the most poisonous places on earth.
Welcome To Sodom, a documentary by Christian Krönes and Florian Weigensamer, shows the desolate existence of the people working in Agbogbloshie. Throughout the film there’s one constant image floating across every shot: dark clouds of smoke covering people’s souls, staining their bodies, filling their lungs. Because that’s what is done there, every day of the year, the burning of computer and printer cables, ethernet and telephone cables, the fire will eat everything except the metals.
The camera follows the lives of a handful of characters: a young girl who’s shaved her head to become a boy. “In this world I am a boy. I make more money selling metal as a boy, than water as a girl,” she says. There’s also the man who’s come from Gambia, an educated man with a PhD who likes to read the Shakespeare pages he finds as he walks amid the mounds of waste. And why is he living here? Because in his country, gay men are tortured to death.
At the end of the film one question reverberates in the viewer’s mind: Are we conscious of the effects our ever-growing consumption has on the world and the environment?
The film was shown at Cinema Galeries on March 24th as part of the Millennium Documentary Film Festival. For this edition, the festival’s organizers wanted to highlight the major themes of the globalized world: consumption in all its forms, challenges of the environment, women’s and children’s rights, as well as the hidden sides of social networks and the unknown America.
The festival goes on until March 30th. Not to miss.