PORTO MARGHERA, VENICE

1950’s: Gabriele Bortolozzo is a happy man, has a job in his country and doesn’t have to emigrate: the Petrochemical company of Porto Marghera is hiring labourers for its new plants. They will be producing, and in great quantities, a new material: plastic. What he doesn’t know, nor was he or his fellow workers told, is that the process is dangerous and gives cancer. This documentary tells his story and how he brings the company’s managers to court 50 years later.

Driven by the conviction that our existence must be based on respect for our fellow man and the environment in which we live, Bortolozzo sets out on an information-gathering mission to demonstrate the connection between exposure to VCM fumes and cancer. He also begins campaigning against Montedison’s dumping of toxic wastes into the Adriatic Sea, a campaign which ends successfully with cessation of the practice. He is the first in Italy to publicly denounce, through a series of incriminating pamphlets, the secret and illegal storage and exportation of thousands of drums containing toxic waste to Nigeria. In a letter to management, he publicly declares himself a “conscientious objector“ with respect to the processing of toxic materials. His investigation brings to light the fact that Montedison management has placed specific orders to avoid maintenance interventions that would have cut health risks to workers.

The unions seek to isolate Bortolozzo, seeing him as a threat to the stability of their relationship with management; local politicians and even fellow co-workers turn against him. Despite this, the tenacious factory worker compiles a dossier that will eventually provide magistrates enough information to build a case against the poison-for-profit chemical industry.

Italy / Spain / Switzerland / France / Germany / Belgium / 2002 / 56 min.
Director: Paolo Bonaldi
Production: Stefilm / Media 3.14 / Periscope
Production Coproduction: SRG SSR / ARTE/ BR / RTBF / MEDIA / TELE+ /TSI