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Ray Pride

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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“The Motion Picture Academy, at considerable expense and with great efficiency, runs all the nominated pictures at its own theater, showing each picture twice, once in the afternoon, once in the evening. A nominated picture is one in connection with which any kind of work is nominated for an award, not necessarily acting, directing, or writing; it may be a purely technical matter such as set-dressing or sound work. This running of pictures has the object of permitting the voters to look at films which they may happen to have missed or to have partly forgotten. It is an attempt to make them realize that pictures released early in the year, and since overlaid with several thicknesses of battered celluloid, are still in the running and that consideration of only those released a short time before the end of the year is not quite just.

“The effort is largely a waste. The people with votes don’t go to these showings. They send their relatives, friends, or servants. They have had enough of looking at pictures, and the voices of destiny are by no means inaudible in the Hollywood air. They have a brassy tone, but they are more than distinct.”All this is good democracy of a sort. We elect Congressmen and Presidents in much the same way, so why not actors, cameramen, writers, and all rest of the people who have to do with the making of pictures? If we permit noise, ballyhoo, and theater to influence us in the selection of the people who are to run the country, why should we object to the same methods in the selection of meritorious achievements in the film business? If we can huckster a President into the White House, why cannot we huckster the agonized Miss Joan Crawford or the hard and beautiful Miss Olivia de Havilland into possession of one of those golden statuettes which express the motion picture industry’s frantic desire to kiss itself on the back of its neck? The only answer I can think of is that the motion picture is an art. I say this with a very small voice. It is an inconsiderable statement and has a hard time not sounding a little ludicrous. Nevertheless it is a fact, not in the least diminished by the further facts that its ethos is so far pretty low and that its techniques are dominated by some pretty awful people.

“If you think most motion pictures are bad, which they are (including the foreign), find out from some initiate how they are made, and you will be astonished that any of them could be good. Making a fine motion picture is like painting “The Laughing Cavalier” in Macy’s basement, with a floorwalker to mix your colors for you. Of course most motion pictures are bad. Why wouldn’t they be?”
~ Raymond Chandler, “Oscar Night In Hollywood,” 1948

“Film festivals, for those who don’t know, are not exactly the glitzy red carpet affairs you see on TV. Those do happen, but they’re a tiny part of the festival. The main part of any film festival are the thousands of people with festival passes hanging on lanyards beneath their anoraks, carrying brochures for movies you have never and will never hear of, desperately scrabbling to sell whatever movie it is to buyers from all over the world. Every hotel bar, every cafe, every restaurant is filled to the brim with these people, talking loudly about non-existent deals. The Brits are the worst because most of the British film industry, with a few honourable exceptions, are scam artists and chancers who move around from company to company failing to get anything good made and trying to cast Danny Dyer in anything that moves. I’m seeing guys here who I first met twenty years ago and who are still wearing the same clothes, doing the same job (albeit for a different company) and spinning the same line of bullshit about how THIS movie has Al Pacino or Meryl Streep or George Clooney attached and, whilst that last one didn’t work out, THIS ONE is going to be HUGE. As the day goes on, they start drinking and it all gets ugly and, well, that’s why I’m the guy walking through the Tiergarten with a camera taking pictures of frozen lakes and pretending this isn’t happening.

“Berlin is cool, though and I’ve been lucky to be doing meetings with some people who want to actually get things done. We’ll see what comes of it.”
~ Julian Simpson