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TWN - Secondhand (Pepe) - Trailer - TWN

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Published on May 3, 2011

Directed by Hanna Rose Shell & Vanessa Bertozzi

In this documentary about used clothing, the historical memoir of a Jewish immigrant rag picker intertwines with the present-day story of 'pepe' — secondhand clothing that flows from North America to Haiti. Secondhand (Pepe) animates the materiality of recycled clothes — their secret afterlives and the unspoken connections among people in an era of globalization.

In the early 1900s, immigrant Jews from Eastern Europe collected, sorted, and sold secondhand clothing. As the Jewish peddlers made their way through North American city streets, they called out 'Rags, Bones, Bottles!' Today, at the beginning of the 21st century, the used clothing industry has gone global. Billions of pounds go to developing nations each year. Used American clothes play an especially central role in Haiti where, as one peddler reveals, 'It's all pepe, all the time.'

Dreamlike visuals and ethereal sounds intermix the beats of Jewish klezmer and Haitian rara music. Luke Fischbeck (Lucky Dragons) has composed the soundtrack of the film with an artful and nuanced ear, emphasizing the ruptures and looped connections among diasporic cultures. Secondhand (Pepe)'s two stories converge as American castoffs travel from the Jewish memoir reader's rag factory to the Haitian shores. As pepe makes its way to Port-au-Prince, passing through an intricate network of peddlers, seamstresses and entrepreneurs, the past recycles into the present.

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