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On the trail of Ghana’s scrap metal men

A new documentary titled, ‘In the Life: Scrap Metal Men’, follows the routine of two Ghanaian scrap metal dealers as they go about their business.



Ghanaian film producers Alex Wondergem and Adu Lalouschek have released a short documentary titled, ‘In the Life: Scrap Metal Men’. The 12-minute documentary follows the daily activities of two business partners, Chief and Life Owner, as they source and trade scrap metal.

The documentary opens with a man descending a dim staircase, going out of the house. Then at a garage, several young men are shown picking and wheeling out handcarts into dark streets – it is early morning. As the day brightens and the theme music gets louder and faster, the main characters are seen manoeuvring their way among motorist and school children, prospecting for scrap metal.

‘Scrap Metal Men’ is the first of three ‘In the Life’ documentary series. It is set in Agbogbloshie, Ghana, a once abandoned wetland now known as the world’s biggest e-waste dumpsite, and also now home to many settlers from rural Ghana and neighbouring countries, some of who survive on selling scrap metal.

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The producers, both of mixed Ghanaian heritage, are graduates of the University of the Arts London, where they met. Their first project together was a narrative film on the Tottenham riots, produced in 2012. Other documentaries in their ‘In the Life’ series are ‘Ga Fishermen’ and ‘Warrior’s Gym’.

“Our main focus was to not make poverty-chic documentaries. We wanted to make documentaries in Accra, Ghana and not allow people to view Africa as a homogeneous place,” Lalouschek said in an interview with Rooted In Magazine. “We approached it in different ways. In our first documentary ‘Scrap Metal Men’, we didn’t have any talking head shots because we thought that was really cliché. We always made sure we filmed from a lower angle, because we didn’t want to be looking down on our subjects.”

By integrating different techniques, he added, they have found their niche in the documentary world.

Watch the full documentary here: