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In his critically acclaimed documentary film Ironeaters, filmmaker Shaheen Dill-Riaz follows poverty-stricken farmers who try to escape the annual famine that strikes their home in northern Bangladesh. They trade in their plows for a blowtorch and begin to work as ship- wreckers, risking their health and their lives for a pittance.  

The seasonal famine in the remote parts of northern Bangladesh forces farmers Kholil and Gadu to leave their fields. Along with several of their relatives, they travel south to work as seasonal laborers in the infamous ship yards that line the beaches of Chittagong.

Their new job is to dismantle the garbage disgorged by the Western World: huge oil tankers, vast container ships and any vessel that has sailed the seas for too long. Without heavy machinery and no protective equipment, they gut the ships right on the beach where they are driven ashore. Razor-sharp pieces of metal, toxic chemicals and hazardous tools turn the job into a living hell.

Ironeaters: A touching story about gutted ships and wrecked lives

Shaheen Dill-Riaz’ film Ironeaters has received much critical acclaim by the international press and the public. It has received several prestigious awards, including the Grimme Award in 2010. In a documentary critics have compared to Fritz Lang’s famed film Metropolis, Dill-Riaz turns his lens on human beings trapped in a dehumanizing system. It’s a theme he explores in his later films as well, such as in The Networker or in his latest film, The Projectionist. This focus on the human aspect of things has since become a hallmark of Dill-Riaz’ documentaries.

In Ironeaters, Dill-Riaz is witness to a system of exploitation that very few workers can escape from. At a shipwrecking yard with the motto of “Peace, Happiness and Prosperity“, seasonal workers like Kholil and Gadu are assigned the most dangerous tasks. Soon enough, the insidious nature of the system reveals itself, as they are forced into debt. The prospect of returning to their families becomes more distant with every day they wreck another ship.

Ironeater Awards

Grimme Award 2010
First Prize: Tel-Aviv International Documentary Film Festival 2008
First Prize: Le Festival International Du Film D´Environnement, Paris 2007
First Prize: South Asian International Film Festival in Katmandu, Nepal
First Prize: Eine-Welt-Film-Preis NRW Fernsehworkshops Entwicklungspolitik
Best documentary Hachenburger Filmfest 2008
Best documentary Achtung Berlin
EPD Film of the Month, June 2008

Film details

Title: Ironeaters / Eisenfresser
Release date: 2008
TV premiere: May 5, 2009, 21:00
Length: 85 min
Format: HD / 35 mm
Production: Lemme Film


Ironeaters website
Ironeaters trailer
Mayalok Film Production
Lemme Film
২০১০ সালের ‘আডল্ফ গ্রিমে’ পুরস্কার পেলেন শাহীন দিল-রিয়াজ (DW বাংলা)
শাহীন দিল রিয়াজের সাক্ষাৎকার, ২১শে মে ২০১২ (DW বাংলা)


Pressemappe Eisenfresser (Deutsch)
Ironeaters full press kit (English|Zip)
Ironeaters photos (Zip)


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