Michael Glawogger – Workingman’s Death (2005)

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After you see this film, you’ll never complain about your job again. Subtitled something like “Five Portraits of Work in the Twenty-First Century,” Glawogger’s documentary features some of the most dangerous, difficult, or just plain unpleasant work in the world.

Each segment except the last one is about twenty-five minutes long, and is shot without any voice-over narration and very little editorializing. We are simply presented with people working and talking about their work. The director possesses a very painterly sense of composition, and we’re often presented with shots of workers posing as if they were in front of a still camera. The camera-work is even more impressive when it is moving, and I often found myself wondering how they were able to film in some of these conditions.

The segments follow, in order, a group of miners in Ukraine who have dug their own coal shafts, a group of men in Indonesia who collect sulfur from an active volcano and haul it down the mountainside, butchers at an open-air slaughterhouse in Nigeria, men who break apart rusting ships for scrap metal in Pakistan, and steelworkers in China. Although all of these workers are merely surviving, the thing that struck me most was how contented, even happy, most of them were.

Author: James McNally from Toronto, Canada

2005 Gijón International Film Festival / Special Jury Award
2005 Leipzig DOK Festival / FIPRESCI Prize
2005 London Film Festival / Grierson Award

Filming locations:
1 coal mines / ukraine
2 sulfur mining / indonesia
3 slaughter yard / nigeria
4 shipbreaking / pakistan
5 steel complex / china
6 leisure park / germany

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Language:Pashtu / Yoruba / German / English / Ibo / Indonesian / Mandarin / Russian
Subtitles:english, german, french, spanish .srt-files