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Iveta Grófová / MADE IN ASH

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A social drama based on the author’s experiences in a small German-Czech textile factory located in the Czech side of the German-Czech border town of Aš.

The film tells a story of women of diverse backgrounds, age group, education level and nationality who have decided to seek a better pay, perhaps even a better fate by relocating to a foreign town in a different country.

Aš – is a small Czech town, bordering Germany. The town is made up of several old housing units. The city centre has been renovated and resembles a sweet, colorful candy. It is an attraction frequented by German tourists. The demand for savings on groceries provides a steady influx of German consumers from across the border. The town also contains several manufacturing plants which have relocated there from across the German border. They are almost exclusively producing clothing, taking advantage of the low cost of labor in the Czech Republic. However, most of the towns’ original population has other recourse than working in these plants. Only several kilometers past the border on the German side, they can find the same job with a significantly higher wages

Thus, only a small number of Czech women are working in the factories on the Czech side of the border. They are mostly those who have not learned to speak German, or lack the necessary qualification to be able to land a better paying job. The women come predominantly from eastern Slovakia and Ukraine, where they are recruited by agencies cooperating closely with the labor bureaus. When they make a decision to accept employment, they are transferred by busses to housing units in the Czech town of Aš.

The Slovak women generally spend two weeks at time working in the factory; the Ukrainian women are known to be away from home for half a year or even longer. They work on the line, picking a day or night shifts, ten hours at a time and often take also the weekend shifts. Some of the women are the breadwinners for their families. They leave their husbands behind as they are either jobless, or are owed back pay by their employers. It is not unusual for the Ukrainian workers to have college education. At home they had the promise of a career as teachers, or held other high-status positions. In Aš, however, they make more money sewing pants.
The young Slovak women have generally come here to save money to continue their education. or simply because they were too proud to collect unemployment.