do what you want

short film competition on the topic of work

As part of its thematic focus "The Future of Labour", the Federal Cultural Foundation initiated a short film competition to examine how our lives have been influenced by changes in the working world and how we imagine work in the future.

A jury of experts selected eleven film projects based on the topic of work which were then granted funding. The competition was open to all film and video artists and students registered at film, media and art colleges in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The KurzFilmAgentur Hamburg (KFA) was responsible for coordinating the project.

One of the funded films, "Bus" by Jens Schillmöller and Lale Nalpantoglu, was shown at Berlinale, Berlin's International Film Festival 2007. It was the only German short film vying for the "Golden Bear" in the category "Best Short Film".

"Bus" envisions what might happen if there is not enough paid work to go around. In the film, "work guerrillas" no longer wait for job offers from the federal employment agency, but look for work on their own. Travelling in a bus through Germany, they ambush people with their work. No one is safe, their surprise attacks can come anywhere and anytime, from allotment garden communities to Autobahn rest areas. Without being asked to, they rake up leaves, repair broken taillights and scrub toilets. And then they bill people for their services! Along the way, they pick up a female hitchhiker who poses a threat to their entire operation. But their small job-creation business cannot be so easily stopped.

All eleven short films were premiered as a compilation titled "do what you want" at the Kino Babylon in Berlin on 29 March 2007.

Concept of the competition

We have made an age-old dream come true - machines, computers and rationalization measures now shoulder the brunt of our workload. But who would have thought that we could someday actually miss working? A working society with hardly any work - this may become one of the fundamental cultural conflicts in the coming years. For most of us, work is not only how we earn our money. Work forms our identity, gains us recognition and is regarded as the basis of a fulfilling and meaningful life. There is hardly anything more important to people than their job and whether and how they will continue working in the future. Globalisation, automation and increasing demands on flexibility are radically transforming the working world. And as work changes, so do the forms of our coexistence, our relationship to others, our identities, outlooks on life, view of the world and the people around us - in short, our entire culture.

As Georg Seesslen writes, "our future is inextricably tied to what work is, who doles it out and who defines it. And an essential part of this is what kind of images of work we produce. And how we talk about it."

What will follow the images of the industrial era? What impressions do we have of the new (working) world? Are there images equating work with happiness? Or do we even need such images since life can also be fulfilling without work? What new desires and needs are forming in this project- and network-oriented world? What does work mean to us now and what will it mean to us in the years to come?

In making its decisions, the jury was looking for:

strong, imaginative film ideas which depict the reality of the new and/or old working world, as well as provide new, controversial or visionary impulses to the discussion about how we wish to work and live in the future. The jury was particularly interested in film scripts and film projects which were original and experimental, had a personal or unusual style and the courage to tackle difficult issues. In their entirety, the eleven selected films were to represent a multi-facetted combination of themes and styles.

The submission deadline for the film concepts was 10 May 2006.

The members of the jury were:

Gabriele Fischer, editor-in-chief of the business magazine "brand eins"
Lars Henrik Gass, director of the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen
Anke Lindenkamp, short-film editor at ZDF/ARTE
Eva Matlok, managing director of the AG Kino/Gilde
Andres Veiel, filmmaker
Astrid Kühl, managing director of the KurzFilmAgentur Hamburg e.V.

In order to give German audiences the opportunity to watch these films, they will be presented as a shortfilm compilation, shown at German festivals and repertory cinemas, and then broadcast on TV and in other media.

Prizes and Awards

Many of the films in this compilation have received one or more awards. In 2007 Markus Dietrich received the Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau Short Film Award for his film "Outsourcing", as well as the dfk Director Promotion Prize and the Camera del Lavoro Award at the Milan International Film Festival. "Bus" by Jens Schillmöller and Lale Nalpantoglu was the only German movie represented at the Berlinale short film competition in 2007. The Film Assessment Board in Wiesbaden nominated Jan Peters’ film "Wie ich ein freier Reisebegleiter wurde" the short film of the month in February 2007 with the rating “high artistic value”. The film also received the German Film Critics Prize of 2007 in the category of “Experimental Film” during the European Media Art Festival, the Hamburg Cultural Foundation Jury and Audience Prize during the Hamburg International Short Film Festival in 2007, and an award at the 17th International Video Festival in Bochum. It received the Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania State Film Communication Association Prize at the 17th Film Art Festival in 2007 and the 3rd-place Audience Prize at the 15th German Short Film Competition during the Exground Film Festival in Wiesbaden in 2007. It received the Max Bresele Commemorative Award at the 14th Regensburg Short Film Week for its political relevance, the prize for Best Documentary at the La.Meko Festival in Landau in 2007, and the 3rd-place Audience Prize at the Short Cuts Cologne. It also received the Critics’ Prize at the Young Collection short film competition during the Forum junger Filme in Bremen in 2007. Jan Peters was invited to the 10th Ljubljana Documentary Film Festival in 2008. The Film Assessment Board in Wiesbaden gave Arne Bunk’s film "Eine Schauspielerin versucht zu weinen" a rating of “high artistic value”. The film "Peters Prinzip" by Kathrin Albers and Jim Lacy received the Skoda Short Film Award at the International Short Film Festival in Berlin in 2007 and won first place in the “Newcomer” category at the 40th German Business Film Awards. It will also receive the Short Film Award from the Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau Foundation on June 6, 2008.

Short film compilation on DVD

The short film compilation “do what you want” is now available on DVD. The accompanying educational DVD is also on sale for use in the classroom, educational institutions or State Media Central Authorities. The DVD costs € 11.95 and can be ordered directly from the KurzFilmAgentur Hamburg e.V. The DVD with the accompanying educational materials costs € 35.00 for teachers and students and € 220.00 for State Media Central Authorities, and can be ordered from Matthias-Film.

KurzFilmAgentur e.V. (external link, opens in a new window)


KurzFilmAgentur Hamburg e.V.

Friedensallee 7

22765 Hamburg