Greed Premieres at London Film Festival

Image:  Steve Coogan at the Greed London Film Festival Gala Screening. Credit Liam Arthur.

Michael Winterbottom’s powerful new satire Greed premiered last night during London Film festival with an important message about fast fashion and the true beneficiaries of this industry. Here is why you must see this movie.

Last month, Eco-Age hosted an intimate private screening of Michael Winterbottom’s new satire Greed during London Fashion Week ahead of its official London Film Festival premiere last night. The film stars Steve Coogan as fictional high-street fashion mogul Sir Richard McCreadie, alongside Isla Fisher, David Mitchell, Dinita Gohill and Asa Butterfield, as the group prepare for Sir Richard’s extravagant and tasteless 60th birthday party.  Its mockumentary style serves up humour a plenty, but underlying the film’s comedy is a horrifying and thought-provoking commentary on the realities of the fast fashion industry.

“Michael Winterbottom’s Greed is a rare movie,” says Colin Firth, who hosted the screening. “It manages to entertain you and disturb you at the same time, and most importantly, it challenges our deniability. Look out for the scene towards the end where Dinita Gohil’s character describes a single action of hers and its series of consequences. It sticks in the mind as a question for all of us.”

The screening, attended by the likes of Toby Huntington-Whiteley, Rosanna Falconer, Grace Beverley, Caryn Franklin, Doina Ciobanu and Mary Fellowes, was followed by a Q&A session between the film’s director Michael Winterbottom and our own Livia Firthdiscussing the important issue of fast fashion raised within the film.

“Satire allows us to critique our society through humour,” says Rosanna. “At its most effective, it makes us question our perception and even change our ways. Michael Winterbottom has achieved just that. Greed brings together some of the best comic actors of our time in a gloriously entertaining, glamorous and fun biography of a high street tycoon. But behind every laugh in the audience was a discomforting sense of the hidden truth, revealed most evidently in the shocking statistics of the final credits. It was a privilege to ask Michael and Livia questions after the film, elaborating on the film’s significance for the fashion industry with an audience which comprised designers, press and insiders.”

Here are our top five takeaways from the Q&A

Image: Greed producer Melissa Parmenter, Colin Firth, director Michael Winterbottom, and Livia Firth, at the London Fashion Week Screening.

1. Transparency is a thorny issue

Garment workers’ working conditions, treatment and fair wages was a subject thrown up by the film, particularly through the story of Dinita Gohill’s mother.  This led one audience member to ask about transparency within the supply chain, and how consumers can be smart and ensure they are not supporting or encouraging slave labour. 

Michael pointed out that, due to factories and companies outsourcing for manufacturing, it is very hard to monitor supply chains, wages, and working conditions. Livia said that it is not enough now for companies to share the ratings of just their Tier 1 factories, as there is so much more going on beneath this with subcontracting and lower tiers of factories. What the industry really calls for is better legislation. The biggest issue is that there is still no legal requirement for brands to pay workers a living wage.

Image: Steve Coogan, Michael Winterbottom, David Mitchell, Asa Butterfield and Dinita Gohill at the Greed London Film Festival Gala Screening. Credit Liam Arthur.

2. Change must start with paying workers a living wage

Michael and Livia were asked about the environmental issue in fashion; for example, factory pollution and fashion’s contribution to CO2 emissions. Livia maintained that all of these problems stem from social injustice. She argued that the only reason that brands can afford to mass manufacture the way they do, is because of low wages. If workers were paid a fair wage and more money was spent ensuring they worked in safe conditions then brands would be forced to slow down production, hence lowering their environmental impact.

Image:  Greed director and writer Michael Winterbottom and producer Melissa Parmenter at the Greed London Film Festival Gala Screening. Credit Liam Arthur.

3. Education is crucial

There was discussion over the UK’s national educational curriculum and the lack of these realities being taught to children in schools because they are limited by the government on what they are allowed to say. Political education is needed so that the government understands the importance of children being taught the truth about the fashion industry.

Image: Greed actress Dinita Gohil at the London Fashion Week screening.

4. We must change the way we think about buying

The question of cost was raised – what happens if one cannot afford to buy more responsibly? This is a troubling issue, but this thinking is partly encouraged by people’s consumer habits. We are used to getting everything fast, easily and at low prices. When really, the attitude should not be to immediately replace clothes but to repair existing clothes, rather than buying more. And when items cannot be repaired, buying second-hand is a cheaper and more sustainable option.

Images: (L) Niomi Smart and Rosanna Falconer, and (R) Toby Huntington Whiteley and Xenia Tchoumitcheva Brown, at the London Fashion Week screening.

5. There must be a change in legislation

One audience member said that they loved the statistics shown about fast fashion at the end of the film, but asked if they could add a call to action or advice on what viewers can do. Michael and Livia both agreed that consumers can do lots of things to prevent fast fashion, but for things to change totally there must be a change in the overall system and legislation. Livia used the example that now brands are moving to Ethiopia for their manufacturing as there is no minimum wage. 

Learn more about the UK Government’s inquiry into the sustainability of the fashion industry.

For more thought-provoking viewing, see our list of life-changing documentaries to watch now.

Read our guide for where to start when it comes to dressing ethically.