Rahul Jain: Machines

You are 12-13 minutes into the film before someone is saying something. Before that the camera operated by Mexican Rodrigo Trejo Villanueva takes you into a huge textiles factory in Gujarat, India to – with the words of Richard Leacock – give us viewers the feeling of being there. A more than succesful ambition; you go with the workers carrying bundles of cloth, putting them where they are to be before they go for drying and being colored; it is a long and complicated process and as the first worker talking says, ”sometimes you just need to push a button, sometimes you need strength and brain”. You go with the cameraperson, who goes with the workers, there is a constant movement and an eye for the detail and for faces and for giving information about what is being produced. Yes, here is one more film that gives us evidence that you can tell in images, if you know the possibilities of the cinematic language. I was thinking of late master Glawogger and his masterpieces ”Megacities” and ”Workingman’s Death”. This debut film (!) has the same visual qualities.

The visual flow stops once in a while to let workers speak. One tells how he has to loan money to come here to work and tells the director that he is not exploited. There is a moving interview with a child and later on a magnificent sequence, where a child worker struggles not to fall asleep. He is yawning several times, the eyes are almost closing… they work in 12 hour shifts, they are under-paid, there is no efficient union that could change the 12 hours to more human 8 hours working hours. And there is an interview with the director, who is not satisfied with the workers, who – I think that is what the assh… finds that the workers now just want to fill their stomach and don’t even send money back to their family.

A different stylistical take is introduced towards the end. From the observational mixed with some interviews an image comes up with a handful of workers standing outside dressed in some of the textiles they have produced, a beautiful picture but why I thought, followed by a flight over the factories and then down to a crowd of people, who have a speaker, who says ”why do you come here to have us tell about our working condition and our poverty, why don’t you help us, why don’t you tell us what to do…” The question goes to the ones behind the camera and to us, who have watched a unique film from our world. Enjoying the aesthetical choice and enraged by the content.  

India, Germany, Finland, 2016, 70 mins.

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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