Director Rahul Jain presents an intimate, observational portrayal of the rhythm of life and work in a gigantic textile factory in Gujarat, India. Moving through the corridors and bowels of the enormous and disorientating structure, the camera takes the viewer on a journey to a place of de-humanising physical labor and intense hardship, provoking cause for thought about persistent pre-industrial working conditions and the huge divide between the first world and developing countries. Since the 1960s the area of Sachin in western India has undergone unprecedented, unregulated industrialisation, exemplified in its numerous textile factories. Machines portrays only one of these factories, while at the same time representing the thousands of labourers working, living and suffering in an environment they can’t escape without unity. With strong visual language, memorable images and carefully selected interviews of the workers themselves, Jain tells a story of inequality and oppression, humans and machines.
Delhi-born, US-educated Rahul Jain, dropped out of engineering to join the California School of Arts to study filmmaking. Of his debut film Machines, he says “As a five year-old boy I used to roam around in my grandfather’s now-defunct textile mill in Surat, in India’s Gujarat state. It was easy to get lost in the labyrinthine corridors. I was overwhelmed by the machines as a three-feet tall kindergartener. It was this sensation of being minuscule in front of the gigantic processing machines that took me back to a similar factory twenty years later – this time with a camera.”
“A child’s perspective is motivated by height, but as an adult the depth perception takes over. Seeing the world on an eye-to-eye level basis helped me sort my inclinations well. We forget this in our everyday existential structures because these things are hidden from our immediate field of vision, and I wish to elucidate through the camera this simple eye-to-eye perspective we sometimes choose to not acknowledge. It’s easy to look away from things we that make us uncomfortable so I set out to use cinema as a curatorial device to confront some of these things with a temporal patience.”