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Complicit: An Eye-Opening Documentary on the Dark Side of Smartphone Production

This film is a powerful documentary uncovering the human cost of smartphone production.

Keywords: smartphone production, benzene, exploitation, workers' rights, Chinese factories, leukemia, health and safety activism. Three words: Eye-opening, Harrowing, Thought-provoking.


"Complicit" is a thought-provoking documentary directed by Heather White and released in 2017. The film focuses on the life and struggles of Yi Yeting, a Chinese migrant worker fighting to eliminate the use of life-threatening benzene in smartphone production factories. In today's digital era, where smartphones have become a necessity, understanding the human cost behind their production is of utmost importance.


"Complicit" follows the journey of Yi Yeting, a migrant worker who becomes a health and safety activist after being diagnosed with leukemia from exposure to benzene at his workplace. The documentary explores the dark underbelly of smartphone manufacturing industries, where workers' health is often compromised for profits.

More Film Analysis



"Complicit" is a hard-hitting investigative documentary that brings to light the hazardous working conditions in electronics factories in China. The film is thoroughly researched, diving deep into the issue and capturing the real-life experiences of factory workers. The presentation style is direct and unflinching, making it a compelling watch.

Historical and Factual Context


Benzene is a carcinogenic chemical often used in the electronics industry. Long-term exposure can lead to a range of health issues, including leukemia. Despite bans in many countries, it is still used widely in factories in China.

Key themes in the film

  • Exploitation of workers in the technology industry
  • The human cost of smartphone production
  • The struggle for workers' rights and safe working conditions

Film Comparisons

Unlike other documentaries on iWonder that focus on technological advancements, "Complicit" uncovers the dark side of this progress, shedding light on the human cost that often goes unnoticed.

Noteworthy Moments

A particularly poignant moment in the film is when Yi Yeting, despite his illness, continues his fight for safer working conditions, demonstrating the strength of human spirit and resilience.


"Complicit" has been well-received by audiences and critics alike, earning an impressive 8.2 on IMDB.


"Complicit" is a significant documentary that raises awareness about the dire working conditions in smartphone factories. It is a must-watch for anyone interested in human rights, technology, or social justice.

More Film information:


  • IMDB score: 8.2,
  • Film festival awards: 2 nominations



  • Yi Yeting: A migrant worker turned activist fighting against the use of benzene in factories.



  • Smartphone factories in China

Key questions raised by the film:

  • How can we ensure safer working conditions in factories worldwide?
  • How can consumers influence the practices of smartphone manufacturers?

I wonder what the film would be in another art form

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  1. A famous book, it would be "The Jungle" by Upton Sinclair because it exposes harsh working conditions.
  2. A famous song, it would be "Working Class Hero" by John Lennon, depicting the struggle of working-class individuals.
  3. A famous piece of art, it would be "The Factory" by Diego Rivera, highlighting the plight of factory workers.
  4. A famous celebrity, it would be Erin Brockovich, known for her fight against corporate injustice.
  5. A colour, it would be grey, symbolising the grim reality of factory workers.
  6. A music style, it would be protest music, resonating with the film's activist spirit.

Watch Complicit - Streaming Online | iwonder (Free Trial)
China produces 90% of the world’s consumer electronics. According to official figures, every five hours, a worker is poisoned by the toxic chemicals used to make these products. But the real figure is believed to be much higher. This documentary follows Chinese worker-turned-activist, Yi Yeting, and…