Directed by Isaac Brown
2012, 55 minutes
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In 1983 TIME magazine bestowed its coveted person-of-the-year award to the computer. This invention revolutionized the way we work, play and communicate.
Since then, technology has advanced at an amazing speed, and in order to keep up we are replacing our old machines at the same rate, creating a cyclical stream of waste. But this is not your grandmother's compost. Computers, cell phones, TVs, and other electronics are filled with heavy metals. A typical CRT computer monitor - the standard box we're all familiar with - contains roughly 7 pounds of lead. In addition to lead, they also contain other toxics: cadmium, mercury and brominated flame retardants. While perfectly harmless on our desktop, when thrown away these antiquated electronics are classified as hazardous waste.
From the director of Gimme Green, which explored the environmental impact of one of our most recognizable national symbols - the residential lawn, Terra Blight is a fascinating, eye-opening documentary that examines America's consumption of technology and the global problem of e-waste. The documentary traces the life cycle of computers from creation to disposal, and uncovers how these products are disposed of and where exactly they wind up.
The United States, for example, is the only industrialized country that does not prohibit the export of its e-waste. So while seventy percent of America's e-waste is buried in toxic landfills, the rest is sent to developing countries.
Terra Blight brings us to one such landfill in Ghana, where young boys scavenge through mountains of broken computers, keyboards and laptops (including, ironically, computers that once belonged to the Environmental Protection Agency) searching for copper and other metals. The documentary also shows us a possible solution to the problem, taking us inside a new high-tech facility in the United States where e-waste is efficiently recycled.
After watching this film, you won't be able to look at a computer the same way.
Official Site: www.terrablight.com/
Subjects & Collections
Festivals & Awards*Official Selection, Slamdance Film Festival
* Best Science Communication Film, Reel Earth Environmental Film Festival
* Official Selection, Eugene International Film Festival
* Official Selection, Mountainfilm in Telluride
* Official Selection, Maui Film Festival
* Official Selection, New Orleans Film Festival
* Official Selection, Chesapeake Film Festival
* Official Selection, San Francisco Green Film Festival
* Official Selection, Costa Rica International Documentary Festival
* Official Selection, Docutah Film Festival
* Official Selection, Flagstaff Mountain Film Festival
* Official Selection, Wild & Scenic Film Festival
Reviews"A film of brutal contrasts and profoundly disturbing conclusions. Terra Blight forces viewers to wonder when conscientious Americans deliver obsolete electronics to “recyclers” on community waste collection days, where do those toxic wastes really end up? Why would any nation permit 21st century toxic waste to be managed by 19th century standards? Highly recommended and a must have for all programs dealing with environmental issues ." - Educational Media Reviews Online
" Recommended . Juxtaposing footage of toxic trash of old PCs with scenes of the newest machines networked in a giant video-game tournament makes for a disturbing and thought-provoking image of the environmental costs of rapid obsolence." - Video Librarian
" This eye-opening documentary will stir debate in classrooms."– School Library Journal
" Suitable for college courses in cultural anthropology, anthropology of technology, development anthropology, anthropology of globalization, American studies, and African studies, as well as general audiences. - The Anthropology Review Database
"Great film!!! Gigantic story superbly told, urgent theme delivered with punch and finesse, brilliant filmmaking in every dimension. Deserves and needs to be seen everywhere." - Jonathan Demme