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By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

Michael Glawogger’s WORKING MAN’S DEATH Online

Michael Glawogger‘s epic documentary Working Man’s Death, on physical labor in the twenty-first century, is streaming in 22-minute episodes on Al-Jazeera and are embedded below. It’s stirring, stunning stuff. “In today’s technological age, is heavy manual labour disappearing or is it just becoming invisible? From the exhausted mine shafts of Ukraine to the bloody slaughterhouses of Nigeria, this series offers an unflinching portrait of physical labour in the twenty-first century, talking to the people engaged in this dreary, demanding and, often, dangerous work.” The veteran documentarian asserts, “Work is often difficult to see, and therefore difficult to depict. Physical labour is probably the only real kind of work.”

Lions“: “In a crowded Nigerian slaughterhouse blood, fire and smoke are normal working conditions. We take a glimpse inside the bloody and frenetic activity of the Port Harcourt meat market in Nigeria. As one worker there explains: “My name is Ishaq Mohammed. My work day begins between six and seven am. Usually I get up at five in order to be at work on time. Killing goats doesn’t bother me. Before I slaughter a goat, I utter God’s name. Normally we slaughter 350 goats a day. Sometimes it’s only 300. Other days it’s only 150. But there are times when goats are in short supply. And then we might have no more than 10 or 15. And sometimes we even have no goats at all.”

Heroes” (22’17”): “We follow Ukrainian miners as they go underground to dig the last pieces of coal from exhausted mine shafts.”

“Brothers”: “Pakistani men use little more than their bare hands to dismantle an abandoned oil tanker for scrap metal.”

“Ghosts”: “In this episode we visit east Java in Indonesia where men climb steep paths amid pungent vapours to bring back lumps of sulfur from the mouth of a volcano.”

One Response to “Michael Glawogger’s WORKING MAN’S DEATH Online”

  1. This was stunning when I saw it on the big screen at TIFF several years back. Although it’s great that it’s on YouTube, this is yet another doc that demands to be seen theatrically. The cinematography, especially in the section on the miners, is amazing.

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Tsangari: With my next film, White Knuckles, it comes with a budget — it’s going to be a huge new world for me. As always when I enter into a new thing, don’t you wonder how it’s going to be and how much of yourself you are going to have to sacrifice? The ballet of all of this. I’m already imaging the choreography — not of the camera, but the choreography of actually bringing it to life. It is as fascinating as the shooting itself. I find the producing as exciting as the directing. The one informs the other. There is this producer-director hat that I constantly wear. I’ve been thinking about these early auteurs, like Howard Hawks and John Ford and Preston Sturges—all of these guys basically were hired by the studio, and I doubt they had final cut, and somehow they had films that now we can say they had their signatures.  There are different ways of being creative within the parameters and limitations of production. The only thing you cannot negotiate is stupidity.
Filmmaker: And unfortunately, there is an abundance of that in the world.
Tsangari: This is the only big risk: stupidity. Everything else is completely worked out in the end.
~ Chevalier‘s Rachel Athina Tsangari

“The middle-range movies that I was doing have largely either stopped being made, or they’ve moved to television, now that television is a go-to medium for directors who can’t get work in theatricals, because there are so few theatricals being made. But also with the new miniseries concept, you can tell a long story in detail without having to cram it all into 90 minutes. You don’t have to cut the characters and take out the secondary people. You can actually put them all on a big canvas. And it is a big canvas, because people have bigger screens now, so there’s no aesthetic difference between the way you shoot a movie and the way you shoot a TV show.

“Which is all for the good. But what’s happened in the interim is that theatrical movies being a spectacle business are now either giant blockbuster movies that run three hours—even superhero movies run three hours, they used to run like 58 minutes!—and the others, which are dysfunctional family independent movies or the slob comedy or the kiddie movie, and those are all low-budget. So the middle ground of movies that were about things, they’re just gone. Or else they’re on HBO. Like the Bryan Cranston LBJ movie, which years ago would’ve been made for theaters.

“You’ve got people like Paul Schrader and Walter Hill who can’t get their movies theatrically distributed because there’s no market for it. So they end up going to VOD, and VOD is a model from which no one makes any money, because most of the time, as soon as they get on the site, they’re pirated. So the whole model of the system right now is completely broken. And whether or not anybody’s going to try to fix, or if it even can be fixed, I don’t know. But it’s certainly not the same business that I got into in the ’70s.”
~ Joe Dante

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