Carnegie Mellon University Home

Dietrich College News

“Shipbreakers” will screen at 7:15 p.m., on Friday, March 21, in McConomy Auditorium and will feature a panel of experts discussing the issues the film raises.

February 2014

“Shipbreakers” Film Documents Dangerous Scrapping Work

In Alang, India, there is a six-mile stretch of an oily, smoky beach where huge ocean vessels no longer seaworthy are run aground, broken apart and stripped of everything from portholes and paneling to furniture, engines and propellers.

Forty thousand migrant workers making $1-2 per day do the scrapping. They cut the ships apart by hand, working in extremely dangerous conditions and without any safety or labor regulations.

To bring this process of shipbreaking to life — and to highlight the human rights and environmental issues involved, the late filmmaker and Carnegie Mellon Professor Paul Goodman, CMU’s Ralph Vituccio and Tom Clancey, an award-winning cinematographer whose resume includes Hollywood films such as “Fast & Furious,” spent four years making the documentary “Shipbreakers.”

They had shot the footage in India and were working on the script when Goodman passed away.

Goodman’s widow, Denise Rousseau, the H.J. Heinz II University Professor of Organizational Behavior and Public Policy, stepped in to keep the project moving. Working off Goodman’s original script, Vituccio rewrote it to include more of the environmental and human rights issues.

“We were invited to the European Parliament in Brussels to present our unfinished work to the NGO Shipbreaking Platform Conference on global regulations for shipbreaking,” said Vituccio, an assistant teaching professor in the Entertainment Technology Center who has won several awards for films and interactive media on topics including racism, conflict management, art history and military service. “There, we were able to interview people involved in trying to set new regulations for the industry.”

“Shipbreakers” will make its U.S. premiere as part of CMU’s 2014 International Film Festival, running March 20 – April 5.

“This is one of the most dangerous industrial sites in the world — there are explosions all the time, people die, people are maimed,” Vituccio said. “The ships are 20 stories high and several football fields long, and the men are wearing sandals, climbing up the ships on rope ladders and using chisels and hammers to break up propellers and other precious metals.”

The ship owners make millions off of the process. Yet, the environmental pollutions are devastating because the ships are laden with toxic materials, which are buried in surrounding farmlands or simply left to pollute the once pristine tidal flats.

“Every ship is a sump of toxic waste,” Vituccio said. “If workers aren't killed on the job from explosions or falling objects, exposure to toxic waste, for many, will result in longterm illness or early death. They don’t have a union or any protection. If they complain, they don’t get hired. There’s no pay standardization, and if — or when — they get hurt, there is no medical or lost wages compensation.”

Vituccio hopes “Shipbreakers” brings awareness to how shipbreaking in less-developed countries has become a major international concern because of the human sacrifice involved and the environmental damages it causes. It pales in contrast to places, such as the U.S., where international laws for dealing with the proper disposal of toxic substances and occupational safety are followed.

“Shipbreakers” will screen at 7:15 p.m., on Friday, March 21, in McConomy Auditorium and will feature a panel of experts discussing the issues the film raises.

The film recently was nominated for Best Feature Documentary and Best Producer for Feature Documentary at the 2014 Madrid International Film Festival. It also has been accepted at the Palm Beach International Film Festival, Flagler International Film Festival and the American Online Documentary Film Awards.

The theme of this year’s International Film Festival pays homage to Goodman, a revered filmmaker, and will highlight the work across different cultures, which was his professional focus.

“Paul was about the process. He was a world-renowned organizational psychologist and was interested in work processes — how people organize, get along and manage each other. He was passionate about how film could help tell their stories. We all miss him,” said Vituccio, who had worked with Goodman on numerous films during the past 15 years.

CMU’s International Film Festival is sponsored by the Humanities Center.

For a full festival schedule and to purchase tickets, visit www.cmu.edu/faces/ .

Stay connected with CMU's Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences on Twitter and Facebook.

Other sources of Carnegie Mellon news include the university news service website and the Carnegie Mellon Today magazine.

Contact Shilo Rea, Director of Public Relations at shilo@cmu.edu or (412) 268-6094.

 

About the Quick Links

Follow the Dietrich College on Twitter and Facebook.
Sign up to receive Dietrich College News, the college's monthly e-newsletter.

  CMU, Pitt Celebrate 20 Years of Advancing Brain Research
At the end of September, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy recognized neuroscience research programs at CMU and Pitt for their support of the federal BRAIN Initiative. Much of what is currently being done by both universities began 20 years ago with the launch of the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC). Read more Watch a video.
  Dietrich College News: September 2014
Features this month include CMU's new BrainHub initiative, social psychology and neuroscience research, alumni news, upcoming events and much more. Read Dietrich College News.
  History Course Inspires Alumnus To Reproduce Great-Grandfather's World War I Photo Album
When Dean Putney (DC'11) saw his family for Thanksgiving in 2011, his mother showed him what she thought was just a family heirloom that had been hiding in his grandmother's closet. Read more.
  Social Support: How To Thrive Through Close Relationships
In a new paper, CMU's Brooke Feeney and University of California, Santa Barbara's Nancy L. Collins detail specific interpersonal processes that explain how close relationships help individuals thrive. Read more.
  MSP Program Prepares Students For Tomorrow's Jobs
In today's economy every company is a data company. Not only are industries collecting increasing amounts of information, but businesses must analyze it to make smart data-driven decisions. Read more.
  Center for the Neural Basis of Cogntion Celebrates 20 Years
A joint project between Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh devoted to investigating the neural mechanisms that give rise to human cognitive abilities, the CNBC ill celebrate a rich history and bright future. Learn more.
  Four Dietrich College Graduates Receive Fulbright Awards
From addressing clean water shortages in urban Mexican communities to teaching English in Brazil, Germany, Montenegro and Turkey, five recent CMU graduates – four from the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences – will be making a global impact through this year’s Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Read more.
  Mapping the Future of the Humanities and Social Sciences
Carnegie Mellon University — which has a long history of the humanities and social sciences collaborating with other fields to solve problems — and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences held the first Pittsburgh-area discussion of the "Heart of the Matter" report and its implications for improving education and creating a sustainable global society. Read more.   Watch the video.  View photos.

 

H&SS Home | Admissions | Advising & Careers | Departments & Programs | Research | Computing & Libraries | News | Alumni

Site Index | About H&SS | Message from the Dean

 

Carnegie Mellon University
College of Humanities & Social Sciences | 5000 Forbes Avenue | Baker Hall 154 | Pittsburgh, PA 15213 | (412) 268-2830