UPDATE: The Cleaners is currently available for streaming for US audiences.
At long last, The Cleaners makes its American wide-release début! The documentary film, first released this January at the Sundance film festival and making appearances at Hot Docs, Human Rights Watch Film Festival and other festivals around the world, will air tonight on the long-running PBS film showcase, Independent Lens. Using commercial content moderation as a way into the complexities of the politics and ramifications of the widespread global adoption of American social media, the film also peers into the lives of several Filipino commercial content moderators who labor in Manila’s BPO (business process outsourcing) industry – call centers.
I am proud to have served as an academic adviser on this film (I also briefly appear in it), and am thrilled to see my academic research serving as the inspiration for such an incredible, powerful and timely work of cinema such as this. I hope you will watch the film and I hope it provokes as many questions and dialogs in your homes as it has on the festival circuit where I have joined the German directors Moritz Riesewieck and Hans Block for Q&A/talkback events. As we have so often found in those events, there are no easy answers – but the status quo is dangerous and has, until recently, relied upon being largely unknown and hidden from view. After tonight, I expect that last fact to radically change.
I look forward to your feedback and thoughts upon viewing the film.