Environmental Film Festival Review: Unravel (UK & India, 2012)


Unravel is a short film that lifts the veil on the recycled garment industry. It is produced and directed by Meghna Gupta and travels to the Northern Indian town of Panipat. It is here that over 100,000 tonnes of discarded clothes from the West wind up each year and are subsequently recycled.

The film mainly focuses on the warm and charismatic worker, Reshma. She has been employed by this shop for 15 years and often dreams about travelling as far abroad as the clothes she handles. She also lets her imagination run free while she works and she often thinks about the people who once wore these second-hand but almost unworn clothes. She is also joined by her colleagues who also offer insights and describe the process of transformation.

The clothes arrive by large ships to Kutch in Western India where they are slashed in order to protect them. They then travel 1157 kilometres to Panipat. Here, they are sorted by colour and their buttons, zips, tags and other accoutrements are removed. The material is then chopped and put through large machines for re-threading and will ultimately be made into blankets. The workers joke that Western people (who they only know through the Discovery Channel) either hate washing clothes or there is a water shortage (to explain why so many garments wind up here).

Unravel is a quaint and charming documentary that is honest but not preachy. The visuals are colourful as all sorts of clothing from underwear and swimsuits to casual and eveningwear end up in North India. The film also has a warm, Bollywood-inspired soundtrack. In short, it’s a fun and interesting look at one facet of the voracious fashion industry.


Unravel screens on 5 September 2014 as part of the Shorts Session of the Environmental Film Festival in Melbourne. For more information and tickets please visit: http://www.effm.org.au/unravel/


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