In New Orleans Carnival (Mardi Gras), citizens and trees alike dress up to celebrate earthly pleasures. Since late 19th century, there is a traditional use of beads in the parade among participants. The extreme inexpensive price of such colourful strings of fake pearls make them be thrown and hung everywhere, local trees becoming part of the joyful show. But at the same time, these customised trees become a direct result of globalised production. Where do all these beads come from so that they can be lavishly given away? are they almost free or rather priceless?

Their cheap production was originally set in Czechoslovakia. But some decades ago, plastic fever made factories move to new locations, at the same pace as all other production sites have been doing throughout the globe. First to HongKong, then Taiwan and today China and India. In Mardi Gras: Made in China (2005), David Redmon follows the path of Mardi Gras beads from the streets of New Orleans during Carnival – where revelers party and exchange beads for nudity – to the disciplined factories in Fuzhou, China – where teenage girls live and sew beads together all day and night.

“Mardi Gras” cleverly juxtaposes the apex of American bacchanalian excess with the politely sweatshop-like conditions that facilitate the fun, but rather than prissily lecturing the audience, the filmmaker mostly lets the people and images speak for themselves. [L.A. Times]


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