The camera tracks through a vast Chinese factory, past aisle after aisle of workers busily making electric irons. The shot seems to go on forever. Is this a real place? Yes. Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky is famous for his large-scale photos of large-scale locations, and in this documentary by Jennifer Baichwal, he and his crew observe the biggest of the big -- Chinese manufacturing plants, entire cities of uniformed workers swarming in and around miles-long buildings. The near-wordless visual essay (slight voiceover) is endlessly fascinating, as well as totally alienating. Just for balance, the filmmakers also follow Burtynsky to a ship-breaking operation in Bangladesh and China's Three Gorges Dam, as well as to the towering city of Shanghai. Welcome to the future. Now get to work (80 min., 2006).
Director: Jennifer Baichwal
Producer: Nick de Pencier, Daniel Iron and Jennifer Baichwal