BLUE ALCHEMY: Stories of Indigo is an independent documentary about indigo, a blue dye that has captured the human imagination for millennia. It is also about remarkable people around the globe who are reviving indigo in projects that are intended to improve life in their communities, preserve cultural integrity, and bring beauty to the world. Indigo dye has been in use worldwide since antiquity. For centuries it was the world's only blue textile dye. When trade routes opened in the 1500s, Europeans discovered tropical indigo and over the next 300 years, it became a valuable commodity in world trade. It was a truly global product, in increasing demand due to the tremendous upsurge in textile production during the Industrial Revolution. Colonial enterprises produced massive amounts using forced labor and slavery. Indigo dyed almost all blue textiles from military uniforms to silks to workers' clothing, including the first blue jeans. Near the end of the 19th century, all this came to a sudden end when synthetic indigo was brought onto the market. But outside the industrial world, in traditional societies, indigo dyeing continued to be culturally and artistically important. In many places it still survives. And indigo is being revived in vital new projects that are working toward poverty reduction and sustainable development. Filmmaker Mary Lance traveled to five countries to research and videotape the stories of people who are using indigo according to their cultural traditions and those who are reviving it to improve their communities.
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