Distributor:  Global Environmental Justice
Length:  73 minutes
Date:  2017
Genre:  Expository
Language:  English; Mandarin / English subtitles
Grade level: Viewer Advisory Includes frank discussion of depression and suicide
Color/BW:  Color
Closed captioning available
Interactive transcript available


Sal Johnston, C. Wright Mills Chair in Sociology, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Whittier College

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Death By Design

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Death By Design investigates the electronics industry and reveals how even the smallest devices have deadly environmental and health costs.

Death By Design

This film was selected by sal johnston, C. Wright Mills Chair in Sociology, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology,Whittier College

Teacher's guide
A teacher's guide is in progress.  It will include maps, background information, discussion questions, suggested activities and supplementary resources.  Please join our mailing list so we can keep you informed about new titles and guides when they become available, at no extra cost to subscribers.

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, hidden from most consumers. In a documentary that spans the globe, filmmaker Sue Williams investigates the underbelly of the electronics industry and reveals how even the smallest 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, Death By Design tells a story of environmental degradation, of health tragedies, and the fast approaching tipping point between consumerism and sustainability.

Teacher's Guide: Work in Progress
Curator Sal Johnston is working on a guide for Death by Design.

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“You won’t look at your iPhone in quite the same way again after viewing Sue Williams’ thoughtful documentary.” -- Moira Macdonald, The Seattle Times

“Vital. Provocative in its focus on giant American corporations.” -- John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter “Everyone should see this film.” -- Sydney Brownstone, The Stranger

“Both jaw-dropping and heartbreaking, Death by Design forces the viewer to reconsider their whole approach to technology.” -- Hannah Clugston, Aesthetica Magazine


2016 Environmental Award Nominee, Sheffiled Doc Fest 2016 Documentary Competition Seattle International Film Festival 2016 Official Selection, EFFA Environmental Film Festival Australia 2016 Official Selection, Traverse City, Film Festival 2016 Official Selection, BIFF 2016 Official Selection, Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital


Main credits

Williams, Sue (film director)
Williams, Sue (screenwriter)
Williams, Sue (film producer)
Steinman, Hilary Klotz (film producer)

Other credits

Director of photography, Sam Shinn; composer, Paul Brill; editor, Adam Zucker.

Distributor credits

Sue Williams and Hilary Klotz Steinman

Sue Williams

Director and Producer - Sue Williams
Producer - Hilary Klotz Steinman
Editor - Adam Zucker
Director of Photography - Sam Shinn
Music – Paul Brill
Associate Producer and Web Producer – Nusha Balyan
Field Producer, China – Michael Zhao

Docuseek2 subjects

Environmental Justice
Asian Studies
North American Studies
Toxic Chemicals
Environmental Health
Americas, The
Toxic Waste
Environmental Science
Working Conditions
Occupational Health and Safety
Citizenship, Social Movements and Activism
Human Rights
Global / International Studies
Communication and Media Studies
Media Literacy
United States

Distributor subjects

Environmental Design
Labour Studies
Occupational Health and Safey
Toxic Waste
United States


Capitalism, Computer, Consumerism, Conscious Consumer, Digital addiction, Electronics, E-waste, Health, iPhone, Labor Studies; Occupational Health and Safety ; "Death by Design "; Global Environmental Justice

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