This book documents the project “Work in Progress” and portrays the deep commitment to the cinematic arts in Germany. It is also a useful anthology on the topic of work in film. With chapters on theory, cinematic practice and a film index, this reference book includes information on over 400 films of all genres and formats. They depict the many changes that have taken place in working society through documentary, artistic and fictional images, and are supplemented by seven key texts that examine the topic of work in relation to film and cinema from a film-theoretical perspective. Edited by Freunde der Deutschen Kinemathek e.V. Published by b_books Verlag in 2007. 315 pages.
For its project Work in Progress, the Friends of the German Cinemathéque e.V. in Berlin (FDK) created a pool of films from 25 film programmes based on the theme "The Future of Labour". The film pool was presented at a festival at the Kino Arsenal in Berlin on 1-3 September 2006.
The pool was comprised of 75 films, including short and feature-length movies, documentaries, artistic, fictional and historic cinematic works. The film pool served as orientation and inspiration for the development of new regional film festivals and series for which cinemas, festivals, cultural institutions, independent interest groups and curators could apply for funding.
On 15 November 2006, the Work in Progress jury selected 37 applications for funding. The film series was shown at 21 cinemas (community and repertory cinemas, as well as several cineplexes) and at 19 other venues (cultural centres and associations, etc.). German audiences had the opportunity to view these movies at over 50 venues nationwide including numerous open-air showings.
The projects were be accompanied by regionally-specific events, some of which were quite extensive in scope. These included lectures, podium discussions, discussion circles, informational meetings, school projects, workshops, city tours, company tours, excursions, competitions, accompanying exhibitions, accompanying concerts, parties and receptions. Many of the film series refered to local events and incorporate regional films or filmmakers. Some projects were shown as condensed theme-based film festivals, others as longer-term film series.
In the spirit of Work in Progress, the applicants have taken advantage of this unique opportunity to create networks between cinemas, cultural event organizers, local interest groups, institutions and companies.
Interestingly enough, most projects concentrated on wage-based work, the lack thereof or its historical aspects. Hardly any projects approached the issue of work from an alternative angle, such as from the point of view of "leisure time".
Some examples of filmseries: A three-month film series in OSNABRÜCK focused on the transformation of industrial sites (steel, mining, textiles, automotive industries) to customer service metropolises. Using mobile projection technology, audiences were shown one film programme a week at a (former) "work site". An especially interesting aspect was the interplay between the films and the places where they were presented. For example, the mining area of Piesberg served as the backdrop for the presentation of an English comedy about a labour dispute in a coal mining company ("Brass Off" by Mark Herman). Michael Glawogger's "Workingman's Death" - a film about hard manual labour - was shown at a nearby stone quarry, and at the grounds of the NordWestBahn, viewers could watch Ken Loach's "The Navigators" - a movie about the consequences of privatisation of the British railway. After business hours, viewers could take a tour through downtown Osnabrück where short films were projected onto suitable building facades. In a vacant shop, Mirko Tomic's documentary "Die Billigheimer" told the economic success story of discounters. One of the programme's highlights was "Metropolis", Fritz Lang's famous dystopian vision of a fordistic industrial city which has been shown at the Osnabrücker Lutherkirche.
The history of the resort town BAD TÖLZ has been closely linked to its iodine springs and bathing industry since the mid 1800s. The peak of its prosperity occurred during the German economic miracle in the 1950s with the emergence of the "social cure" that aimed to invigorate and revitalize industrial workers (particularly those from the Ruhr region). Following the health system reforms of the 1990s, the number of overnight accommodations and the average convalescence stay decreased by 50 percent, resulting in empty sanatoriums, clinics and hotels. The industrial wastelands in the Ruhr conurbation are directly connected to the recreational wasteland in this idyllic town (as portrayed in the television series "Der Bulle von Tölz"). A three-day film festival in summer 2007 examined the relationship between work and relaxation, and production and recreation. The programme also featured historic film material from Bad Tölz and the Ruhr region and other events that address the future of cures. The films have been presented at the indoor swimming pool, the pump room and in the park of the Jodquellenhof health spa hotel.
In BREMEN, the community cinema Kino 46, the university, chamber of commerce, employee association, various companies and works councils have formed a local alliance to present film programmes based on the topic of work. The eleven film programmes and an extensive accompanying programme addressed questions like: How do futurologists interpret science fiction films? Do you become a double agent by commuting to work? What is the lifestyle of "digital Bohemians"? Does earning your living help you or hinder you from becoming who you are? What will be the jobs of the future? In addition to satirical revues, an exhibition, talk shows, readings, seminars and the "Bremen Immigrant Chorus", the programme also featured multimedia perspectives related to the theme of work. A theatrical procession for "San Precario" kicked off this four-month series of events.
The Communist Manifesto defines work as the sole creator of all fields of education and culture. In the former Soviet Union, the government attempted to motivate its citizens to work by conferring medals and titles based on militaristic honours, e.g, "Hero of Labour". All areas of human activity were redefined as "work on the front" where workers were engaged in constant battle. Slogans like "Battle with Nature" and "Battle against Weakness" marked the everyday life of the Soviet Union. The origin and gradual decline of this societal image in the 1970s is the theme of a film series which has been shown at the Kino Krokodil in BERLIN. It consisted of 20 Russian films produced between 1930 and 2006, one of which is "The Radiant Path" (1940) by Grigorij Aleksandrov which tells the legendary story of a production record set by a weaver in the textile capital of Ivanovo. A related accompanying exhibition illustrated the consequences of structural change in Ivanovo today and a lecture examined how films like "The Radiant Path" helped promote worker idols in the past.
The Filmhaus NÜRNBERG and the Kulturzentrum K4 co-developed an extensive film series on various aspects of change taking place in working society. The recent strike at the local AEG plant served as an example of the repercussions of globalisation. Local artists and filmmakers have been integrated into the programme. Harun Farocki's films provided an example of the increasing mechanization of human activity and the documentary films by the Nürnberg filmmaker Thomas Schadt addressed the issue of long-term unemployment (accompanied by events organized by the Federal Employment Agency). Cinematic fairy tales by René Clair and Aki Kaurismäki portrayed utopias of freedom with and without work, while films by Mábety and Edina Kontsek addressed the problematic issue of child labour. The segment "Women & Work" was developed together with women's projects in Nürnberg, and the segment "Work as a Health Risk" was produced in collaboration with company doctors and the Nürnberg Forum for Psychoanalysis. The programme concluded with a large discussion event on the theme "The Future of Labour in Nürnberg" with business, cultural, scientific and political experts.
In its twelve-part series "First work, then...", the Working Group for Film in REGENSBURG approaches the topic of work from a variety of different angles. In addition to portraying the current "misery of work" (G. Seesslen), the organizers cooperated with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, the Protestant Educational Association, the BMW Corporation and other institutions to investigate what can make work an integral aspect of a successful life. The series presented cinematic moments of contemplation, desire, rejection and solidarity. Utopian visions of work were illustrated by such classics as "Themroc" by Claudio Faraldi (1973) and Charlie Chaplin's "Modern Times" (1936), and contemporary works, such as "Ultranova" by Bouli Lanners (2004) and Aki Kaurismäki's "Drifting Clouds" (1996). During the opening week, lectures, podium discussions and a documentary film production titled "Regensburg denkt über Arbeit nach" ("Regensburg Thinks about Work") provided the film series a regional focus.
The connection between work and mobility was the theme of "Movement - the Moving Film Festival" in ERFURT. This focus does not only pertain to the film series itself, but also the presentation venues - the performances and screenings were separated from each other and presented at various public areas throughout the city. By taking the tram, audiences were able to participate in a network of installations, screenings and theatrical performances. Not only the tram functioned as a means of transportation, but became the venue for surprise performances that got the passengers involved in the festival. An accompanying exhibition presented the results of a "photo event" for which citizens of Erfurt photographed the changes of work with disposal cameras in their neighbourhoods.