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‘No one knows the cruelty which a boy has to undergo in learning.’
– from an original statement by a master chimney sweeper, London 1840
The Chimney Swift brings viewers into the claustrophobic world of the young chimney sweepers of 19th-century London. A dangerous, sometimes deadly job done by children aged between four and 14, these ‘climbing boys’ cleared the ash and soot from chimneys, their small bodies being advantageous for fitting into narrow spaces. Often, the best they could hope for was to survive into adulthood and become a ‘chimney master’ themselves, recruiting more children into the hazardous job, and continuing the cycle of exploitation and abuse anew. Via impressionistic hand-drawn animations, the French-German filmmaker Frédéric Schuld employs a dark colour palette and narrow framing in this short video, evoking the grim working conditions that these children faced until the practice was finally outlawed in 1875 by the UK Parliament, although it continued in other countries.
Director: Frédéric Schuld
Producer: Fabian Driehorst
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