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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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“To be a critic is to be a workaholic. Workaholism is socially conditioned: viewed favourably by exploiters, it’s generally ruinous to a worker’s mental health. When T.S. Eliot said criticism was as inevitable as breathing, he failed to mention that, respiratory problems notwithstanding, breathing is easy. Criticism is reflexive before reflective: to formalise/industrialise an involuntary instinct requires time, effort and discipline. The reason we seek remuneration, as opposed to the self-hatred of being a scab, is because all labour should be waged…

“Criticism, so the cliché by now goes, is dying. None of the panel discussions on its death agony, however—including those in which I’ve formally participated—come at it from the wider perspective that the problem surely needs. They defend the ways in which criticism functions in relation to the industry and to the public, but they fail to contextualise these relationships as defined by ultimately rotten and self-harming imperatives.

“Criticism was a noble profession so long as only a few could practice it for money; when the field expands, as it has with a so-called ‘democratisation’ of our practice, those few lose their political power. Competition grows and markets are undercut: publications are naturally going to start paying less. Precarity is both cause and effect of a surplus workforce: the reason you’re only as good as your last article is because there are plenty of other folks who can write the next one in your place. The daily grind is: pitch, or perish.

B”ut criticism, so a counter-cliché goes, is not dying. An irony: this is an elite sport that is no longer elite in terms of who is able to practice it, but in economic terms it’s clutching to a perverse and outmoded hierarchical structure. It’s more meritocratic than ever, now: which is to say it isn’t meritocratic at all. That’s a paradox in bad need of a resolution…”

~ Michael Pattison Manifestoes Film Criticism

“It’s easy to forget when you’re reading a critic every single week or multiple times a week, that most of us who do this job, and have been doing it for a long time, understand that this is basically a parasitic profession. I don’t mean in the sense that we’re evil bloodsucking creatures, but we couldn’t exist if we didn’t have something to analyze. And I’m always conscious of that. So whether I like or don’t like a particular thing you do, my point of view is always that of an appreciator. I just like to be in the world that you create.”
~ Matt Zoller Seitz To Sam Esmail

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