Red dust

Red dust Ilona Kacieja 12mff
Country: United Kingdom
Category: Documentary
Release date: 2015
Duration: 16 min
Director: Ilona Kacieja
Edition: July 2015-2016
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The Red Dust is a hard-hitting, journalistic style, environmental human rights documentary. The focus of the film is the former site of the Ravenscraig Steelworks in North Lanarkshire, Scotland. People there have suffered from cancer and asthma, which they feel sure was caused by the pollution and toxins, known locally as ‘red dust’. My main characters are mainly ex- workers of Ravenscraig, and their families and friends. Ravenscraig was opened in 1959, and has formerly the largest hot strip steel mill in Western Europe. The closure of Ravenscraig signalled the end of large scale steel making in Scotland, and was the cause of a loss of 770 jobs, and another 10, 000 jobs losses directly and indirectly linked. An economic decision by Margaret Thatcher, which closed Ravenscraig on June 24th 1992 resulted in epigenetic illnesses. This documentary is interviews, and archival based story. I am developing the idea of external industrial pollution, and internal epigenetic pollution. I have taken a micro/ local approach to the subject, specifically the Ravenscraig steelworks political hot potato.

People living in the local area of Ravenscraig have suffered respiratory problems such as asthma for many years. An important added and generally little known scientific factor comes into play here: epigenetics. Epigenetic changes occur through methylation, and imprinting onto individual genes, which are switched on by the environment, and specifically by pollution. What this means in practical terms is that individuals who have asthma can pass this illnesses onto their grandchildren, this has actually already happened to people! The tragedy is governments and economic decision makers have ignored this knowledge because it put them in the spotlight, and makes them personally responsible. Many workers as a result of the closure suffered long term depression, which will have affected their grandchildren. Many turned to drink and unhealthy habits, such as overeating, and oversmoking, which will have been passed on to their grandchildren resulting in unnatural cravings, obesity, and diabetic for example.

Red Dust tells the story of Ravenscraig Steelworks, North Lanarkshire, Scotland, in terms of pollution related illnesses, suffered and still being suffered by former workers, residents, and their children. The film aims to help these people to find a voice. Their rights to a healthy environment have been violated. The purpose of this documentary is to publicise and report what residents and ex-workers have experienced and are still experiencing in terms of illness caused by pollution, contamination, and fighting for their rights. Some residents with cancer are claiming that it has been caused by pollution from Ravenscraig Steelworks. The film shows how people have gone from an almost romantic affection for The Craig to disillusionment. By means of testimonials from local residents, the film shows a very real awareness amongst people, that there is much more illness being experienced, than there should be. The aim of the documentary is to inform ordinary people, governments, and industry, by public engagement, through the media, about environmental health human rights, so that more will be done to these dangers, and to show that a nimby” (Not In My Back Yard) attitude is not acceptable. The documentary maker hopes it will help people to fight the tendency that governments have of brushing human rights under the carpet, by the by the clever use of statistics from national health organizations.

The film reveals the former Ravenscraig Steelworks site is still possibly contaminated. Paradoxically, it is Europe’s biggest post-industrial, regeneration project.


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