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Category Archives: Technology

Metropolis (1927)

Directed by: Fritz Lang
Running Time: 148 min
Starring: N/A

Website: http://www.kinolorber.com/sites/metropolis/

Synopsis: In a futuristic city sharply divided between the working class and the city planners, the son of the city’s mastermind falls in love with a working class prophet who predicts the coming of a savior to mediate their differences.

 

Robot Somnambulism (2016)

Richard HSIAO
2016 / Taiwan / Documentary / 90min /
Foxconn, the world’s largest electronics OEM factory, manufactured and assembled more than 50% iPhone of the world. In 2010, the serial jumping of Foxconn workers caught attention. People holding iPhone suddenly noticed that it’s producer were working like a robot, acting every 7 seconds, 12 hour a day. They felt a bit uneasy, but cannot loosen their hand. Smartphone has changed human life completely. On the other side, the company supplying touch panels to HTC were suppressing worker union. Union and supporting students choose HTC to protest, making its managers feel embarrassed and aggrieved. Meanwhile, one of HTC engineer died possibly because of overworking. His last message on Facebook was “off work, issue still not resolved”, AM 3 o’clock, Sunday. In this era, robotic people making humanized machine, is it a hopeless tragedy, or the beginning of a brave new world?

 

Machines (2016)

India, Germany, Finland (Director: Rahul Jain) — This intimate, observant portrayal of the rhythm of life and work in a gigantic textile factory in Gujarat, India, moves through the corridors and bowels of the enormously disorienting structure—taking the viewer on a journey of dehumanizing physical labor and intense hardship.

Daunting descent to the underworld of a textile factory in Gujarat, in North-western India, where the cheap clothes for the first world are made. This factory represents many more from Western India, where the scenary and the conditions are like the ones we see here. Claustrophobic, hermetic, unhealthy, dark spaces, with the air saturated of toxic smoke emanated from dye chemicals. Tied to looms, sleepy teenagers, youths and mature men work twelve hours a day for starvation wages: many of them go into debt in order to pay the train ticket to travel from rural areas to the urban factories. The brutal working conditions dehumanize the workers, to the point of turning them into appendixes of machines. Landless peasants join the files of workers without rights nor holydays. Few well selected interviews to workers convey what happens here: employers oppression without any constraint from the State, lack of trade-union reply due to the killing of their leaders, no viable alternative to survive out of the factory.

Relevance: With an excellent cinematography (it gained the Price of the best documentary photography in Sundance), the film transfers a feeling of anguish without loosing artistic dignity. We roam labyrinthic corridors and stagnant rooms, and we absorb the rhythm of production through the monotonous noises from the machines. This great debut of Rahul Jain give voice and faces to some of the more sorely afflicted slaves in the twenty-first century.
Note courtesy Docs and the World

 

Buzzard (2014)

97 min | Comedy, Drama | 6 March 2015 (USA)
Director/writer: Joel Potrykus
Stars: Joshua Burge, Joel Potrykus, Teri Ann Nelson

Marty is a caustic, small-time con artist drifting from one scam to the next. When his latest ruse goes awry, mounting paranoia forces him from his lousy small town temp job to the desolate streets of Detroit with nothing more than a pocket full of bogus checks, a dangerously altered Nintendo® Power Glove, and a bad temper. Albert Camus meets Freddy Krueger in BUZZARD, a hellish and hilarious riff on the struggles of the American working class.

NYTimes: Review: In ‘Buzzard,’ an Angry, Unkempt Antihero
An unsparing portrait of an office temp and scam artist near the bottom of the economic food chain.
NYTimes: Joel Potrykus’s Film ‘Buzzard’ Is Inspired by Dead-End Jobs
The writer and director’s deadpan comedies have followed a man-child on the skids.

 

Sunder Nagri (Beautiful City) (2003)

Director: Rahul Roy
English (subtitled), 78 min, 2003, India
http://magiclanternmovies.in/film/city-beautiful

Sunder Nagri (Beautiful City) is a small working class colony on the margins of India’s capital city, Delhi. Most families residing here come from a community of weavers. The last ten years have seen a gradual disintegration of the handloom tradition of this community under the globalisation regime. The families have to cope with change as well as reinvent themselves to eke out a living.

Radha and Bal Krishan are at a critical point in their relationship. Bal Krishan is underemployed and constantly cheated. They are in disagreement about Radha going out to work. However, through all their ups and downs they retain the ability to laugh.Shakuntla and Hira Lal hardly communicate. They live under one roof with their children but are locked in their own sense of personal tragedies.

Producer: Rahul Roy
Creative Crew
Camera: Rahul Roy
Editing: Reena Mohan
Sound: Asheesh Pandya

Rahul is a noted documentary filmmaker who has widely worked on the issues of labor and gender in India. His film The City Beautiful masterfully depicts the life of two families in an Indian working-class colony, focussing on the decline of traditional handloom industry because of globalization. His recent work The Factory (2015) is about the struggle of Maruti automobile workers in New Delhi. For more than two years, 147 workers from the Maruti Suzuki plant were kept behind bars without bail or any charge sheet being presented to the defence counsel. Rahul has followed their crisis and struggle from 2013 to 2015. Read more about the film in this Indian Express piece.

Director contact info: rahulroy63@gmail.com

 

Boom and Bust: America’s Journey on the Erie Canal

Directed by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Paul Wagner and co-produced by Steve Zeitlin of CityLore and Erie Canal Museum Curator Daniel Ward, the film tells the story of industrial expansion and decline along the Erie Canal and examines its impact on the lives of workers in steel, grain, textiles and shipping. Wagner’s credits include The Stone Carvers and Windhorse. A meditation on economic cycles and the American Dream. The film surveys the macro-economics of industrial expansion and decline along the Erie Canal, and examines its impact on the lives of workers in steel, grain, textiles and shipping. In the wake of economic collapse, can the people of America’s cities find meaning and worth?

Paul Wagner, Charlottesville, VA:  pw@paulwagnerfilms.com

 

Labour in a Single Shot

http://www.labour-in-a-single-shot.net

Starting in 2011 artist, curator, and author Antje Ehmann and filmmaker, video artist and author Harun Farocki initiated video production workshops in 15 cities around the world in which participants were to engage with the subject of ‘labour’: paid and unpaid, material and immaterial, traditional or new. The videos could not be longer than two minutes and they had to be taken in a single shot. The camera could be static, panning or travelling but cuts were not allowed. This concept references the Brother Lumière’s famous film Workers Leaving the Factory which was filmed in one continuous take from a fixed camera position.

The result of these workshops, which were organised together with local branches of the Goethe-Institut, are 400 films which show people engaged in all kinds of work, each film taking a different stance, literally and figuratively, towards its subject while also recording the diverse mental attitudes and bodily relation people have to their work.

Facing the challenge of filming something that might be essentially repetitive, continuous and boring, the films also foreground the work of the camera operator and his or her aesthetic decisions. In the multitude and diversity the films form a visual compendium and an archive of labour and cinema in the 21st century that is never boring or repetitive but enhances and simultaneously questions our perception and understanding of work.

All the films can be watched on a dedicated website, at random, or sorted by city, colour or type of work. A selection of 90 films was shown as an installation at the House of World Culture in Berlin from 27 February to 6 April 2015 with an accompanying conference. This exhibition also presented the project ‘Workers Leaving the Factory in 15 Cities’ (2011 – 2014), consisting of contemporary remakes of the famous film by the Lumière Brothers which were shot in 15 cities all over the world. Also included in the exhibition was the installation ‘Workers Leaving the Factory in Eleven Decades’ (2006), which showed scenes of workers leaving the factory throughout the history of cinema, from the Lumière Brothers (1895) to Lars van Trier’s Dancer in the Dark (2000).

‘Labour in a Single Shot’ is a co-production of the Harun Farocki Filmproduktion with the Goethe-Institut.

www.harunfarocki.de