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Death By Design


Consumers love – and live on – their smartphones, tablets and laptops. A cascade of new devices pours endlessly into the market, promising even better communication, non-stop entertainment and instant information. The numbers are staggering. By 2020, four billion people will have a personal computer. Five billion will own a mobile phone.

But this revolution has a dark side that the electronics industry doesn’t want you to see.

In an investigation that spans the globe, award-winning filmmaker Sue Williams investigates the underbelly of the international electronics industry and reveals how even the tiniest devices have deadly environmental and health costs. From the intensely secretive factories in China, to a ravaged New York community and the high tech corridors of Silicon Valley, the film tells a story of environmental degradation, of health tragedies, and the fast approaching tipping point between consumerism and sustainability.


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The Filmmakers

Sue Williams Director/Producer/Writer

Sue Williams has produced and directed five critically acclaimed, feature documentaries about China for national PBS broadcast, including Frontline. Contemporary China features prominently in her most recent film, DEATH BY DESIGN. Sue also directed two highly praised biographies on Eleanor Roosevelt and Mary Pickford for the PBS series, American Experience.

Her films have been broadcast in more than 25 countries and appeared in festivals around the world. They have won numerous awards, most recently, the 2016 Boston Globe Doc Filmmaker Award.



If you can't make any of our upcoming screenings, you can watch #DeathbyDesign #OnDemand. Here are the options:

April 29, 2017

"No reuse. No parts harvesting. No resale" are Apple's orders to recyclers, @motherboard's investigation reveals:

April 29, 2017

We're excited that #DeathbyDesign will be screening at the #Basel Convention in Switzerland on May 2 @ 6:15 #COP2017

April 28, 2017

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Festivals & Awards

Sheffield Doc/Fest


"Just what is the cost of our digital dependency? Director Sue Williams debunks the notion that electronics is a “clean” industry by investigating a number of environmental and health catastrophes wrought by production of our gadgets. From early poisonous practices in Silicon Valley, to China’s ongoing dumping of chemicals this is a story that isn’t being told - but can no longer be ignored."

Carol Nahra

+ Festival Website