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No Sweat

3.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

An all-American tale about an all-American garment: The T-shirt, NO SWEAT takes a wild ride into the bowels of Los Angeles garment industry. Mostly undocumented workers at American Apparel and SweatX are offered better wages, benefits, even a shot at worker-ownership. But what's really behind the label? Dark, dingy factories. Workers hunched elbow-to-elbow over machines. Nike. Guess. Kathy Lee Gifford. We are all too familiar with sweatshops, operating both in the U.S. and overseas. But does what's behind the label of what you wear always have to be linked to worker exploitation? Enter SweatX and American Apparel, two hip T-shirt factories that operate in downtown Los Angeles , just blocks from each other. Both companies are committed to creating "sweat-free" clothing (i.e. their workers earn livable wages and get benefits, work in safe environments, etc). While Sweat X is backed by $2.5 million from ice cream-maker turned social activist Ben Cohen, (of Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream), American Apparel was built from the ground up by controversial self-described Canadian "schmata" hustler, Dov Charney. "NO SWEAT" is a fast-paced, behind-the scenes documentary that follows these two companies for one year, comparing their divergent business practices, interviewing workers, following a union drive, and zeroing in on the hopes and dreams of the garment workers themselves. While Dov gets slapped with sexual harassment allegations and openly resists unionization, Sweat X struggles to survive in the tight economic conditions that have sent so much of their competition overseas. Racy ads, or sound labor practices? Legalize L.A. , or subcontract the work? So much of what both companies are grappling with resonates on a global scale, as the garment industry provides a first-stop for immigrant workers fleeing subhuman conditions in China , Southeast Asia, and South America . So what's behind the label of your T-shirt?

About the Director

Amie has been a labor activist/independent filmmaker for the past fifteen years. Past documentary films have garnered international screenings and awards, from the Motion Picture Academy, American Film Institute and the International Documentary Association, among others. Past works include: Uncommon Ground: From Los Angeles to South Africa (1994) about youth and apartheid; Stripped and Teased: Tales from Las Vegas Women,(2001) ; broadcast on PBS and theatrically distributed; One Day Longer: The Story of the Frontier Strike , (2003); commissioned by HEREIU, and Eye of the Storm, The Story of the Lockout for the International Longshoreman and Warehouse Union, ILWU (2005). Recently, Amie was awarded an ITVS/Lincs grant for the film Fallon , NV , about a childhood leukemia cluster in a rural Nevada town and Naval Air Base, which was broadcast on PBS in 2004. Amie has field produced numerous segments for such clients as BBC, Discovery Channel, Sweden Channel-1, Pro-Sieben, (Germany), Canal-Plus (France), the Learning Channel, and HBO/Cinemax. Amie also co-founded the CineVegas International Film Festival in 1998, bringing world cinema for the first time to the Las Vegas Strip. She served as Artistic Director for three years before Trevor Groth of Sundance took over. She is a graduate of Yale University (B.A. 1985) and the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television (M.F.A., 1991). Amie is also a proud member of I.A.T.S.E. local 720 as a camera operator.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Amie Williams
  • Directors: Amie Williams
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: IndiePix Films
  • DVD Release Date: February 23, 2010
  • Run Time: 54 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0030UNWRU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #302,487 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Z. Freeman VINE VOICE on April 22, 2010
Format: DVD
In the opening minutes of No Sweat, a new documentary from filmmaker Amie Williams, Ben and Jerry's cofounder Ben Cohen explains his reasoning for creating the clothing manufacturer SweatX: "Some of us started to wonder if there might be a way to take the sweat out of the shop." Similarly, Canadian entrepreneur Dov Charney founded American Apparel in an attempt to show that American-made clothing could compete in the global marketplace. In Williams' excellent hour-long documentary, both businesses are examined and showcased in equal proportion.

Interviewing the two CEOs, management, factory workers, union organizers, and many others involved in the manufacturing industry, Williams seeks to look at both SweatX and American Apparel from all angles, showing the positive effects of the different management styles as well as the difficulties faced by each organization. Charney offers the most entertainment throughout the documentary, with his intrepid and controversial leadership style and explosive (and candid) commentary.

Though it's clear that No Sweat is out to promote the idea of providing living wages for factory workers, by the end of the film the prognosis for the "sweat-free" sweatshop seems a bit dim, as SweatX folds (despite their $2.5 million venture capital funding) and Charney faces sexual harassment charges (which he claims are unfounded). But judging from the success of American Apparel in recent years, and the universal appeal of their "best brand is no brand" attitude, Charney has proven that it is possible to compete in the clothing industry while also paying a living wage to all factory workers. And with Bill Gates heavily promoting Creative Capitalism in recent years (much of the footage for No Sweat takes place in 2003, and the film was completed in 2006) American Apparel should be seeing other clothing manufacturers follow suit.
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Format: DVD
I really wish that I could give this movie a great review, because the subject matter is so important. American Apparel is a terrific company that strives to give equal opportunity work to Latinos. The company bends over backwards to pay workers fairly, treat them well, and does unprecedented things such as providing massage therapist for aching shoulders, as well as English lessons. Sounds like a utopia, but it's simply what the workers deserve.

SweatX, backed by Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry's ice cream, is another awesome company that treats workers really well. And there are some very interesting and disconcerting facts in this documentary. For example, I didn't know that LA was the home to garment workers. I still thought that it was New York.

So, in terms of learning, this is a great movie. But in terms of entertainment, it's really slow moving, repetitive and boring in parts. And I say that as a documentary fan. I don't need or want anything to be sensational, but I wasn't even able to finish this whole movie, which is a shame because it has a fantastic message, and I take my hat off to both companies -- literally :-)
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Format: Amazon Video
Snow job trying to cover up American Apparel's sexism, misogyny, pornography and the fact that their founder is very likely a rapist.
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