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April 13 - April 15, 2012

Michael Glawogger's Globalization Trilogy

So often in commercial cinema, work, especially manual labor, and poverty are carefully repressed, banished offscreen. A bracing tonic is offered by the  breathtaking trilogy of bravura documentaries by Michael Glawogger (b. 1959) that locates these issues emphatically center screen. An Austrian director working simultaneously in fiction and non-fiction, Glawogger’s latest film, Whores’ Glory completes a trilogy begun several years ago with Megacities and Workingman’s Death. Together the three films span the globe to portray the life and labor of workers struggling on the perilous margins of the transnational era.

Joining fellow Austrians Ulrich Seidl and Nikolaus Geyrhalter as leaders of an emerging wave of adventurous documentary, Glawogger also belongs to a tradition of documentarians who have traveled far and wide to find images that reveal the way the world works—from the Soviet Union’s Dziga Vertov to the Netherlands’ Joris Ivens and Johan van der Keuken to the American Godfrey Reggio. He mixes an observational style of shooting that eschews explanatory voiceover with a willingness to engage in cinema verité acts of incitement and reenactment. The films’ visual style combines long takes, bravura camera work, rich, saturated colors and a fascination with the edgy and the extreme. The striking nature of the images that result is reinforced by Glawogger’s choice of dramatic music from the likes of PJ Harvey and John Zorn.

Despite their aesthetic veneer, Glawogger’s films neither romanticize nor trivialize the lives of his subjects. On the contrary, his trilogy is nothing less than a quest to reveal their lives as difficult and complex, yet containing resonant moments of what Glawogger calls “human beauty” that humanize and enrich the films.

It is an inordinate pleasure to welcome Michael Glawogger to the Harvard Film Archive to present his extraordinary trilogy.

The program is a co-presentation with the DocYard with additional support from the Film Study Center, Harvard University. Special thanks: Rachel Rakes, David SchwartzMuseum of the Moving Image; Sara Archambault, Ben Fowliethe DocYard; Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Film Study Center.

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Special Event Tickets $12 - Michael Glawogger in Person
Friday April 13 at 7pm

Whores' Glory

Directed by Michael Glawogger
Germany/Austria 2011, digital video, color, 119 min
German, English, French, Thai, Japanese, Spanish and Bengali with English subtitles

The newest and last film of Glawogger's trilogy, Whores' Glory is itself a trilogy, with sections set in Thailand, Bangladesh and Mexico. He documents women prostitutes at work in three different contexts, three different countries: a slick Bangkok brothel, the huge "City of Joy" compound in Faridpur, and a dangerous and forlorn Mexican motel. Neither a moralizing exposé nor a titillating glimpse of forbidden fruit, the film captures the eye-catching side of sex work without ignoring that it is indeed work. Whores' Glory not only refuses to judge the prostitutes, but it maintains an open-minded equanimity about the sex trade in general. Some of the women point out that they are able to earn amounts of money that would be otherwise impossible; others are clearly oppressed by pimps and procurers of both sexes.

Following the screening and discussion, the DocYard is holding a reception with complimentary food and a cash bar at the nearby Grafton Street Pub & Grill.

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Special Event Tickets $12 - Michael Glawogger in Person
Saturday April 14 at 7pm

Workingman's Death

Directed by Michael Glawogger
Austria/Germany 2005, 35mm, color, 122 min
Pashtu, Yoruba, German, English, Ibo, Indonesian, Mandarin and Russian with English subtitles

As the title suggests, Workingman's Death watches people working at difficult, even dangerous jobs, from illegal Ukrainian mines to Indonesian volcanoes to Nigerian slaughter yards. Each of the five chapters takes us on an extensive tour of a different work site. The use of long takes, virtuosic camerawork, ravishing cinematography and a striking John Zorn score all serve to monumentalize the labor depicted on screen – in some ways, resembling the work of Sebastião Salgado. The film's title also projects an ominous cloud over the future of labor. Will the future bring more arduous and more dangerous work, performed for less pay in out-of-the-way sites – a development pointed to by a coda set at a German smelting plant now become a playground? What does that mean for workers here and around the world?

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Special Event Tickets $12 - Michael Glawogger in Person
Sunday April 15 at 7pm

Megacities

Directed by Michael Glawogger
Austria/Switzerland 1998, 35mm, color, 90 min
Hindi, English, Russian and Spanish with English subtitles

The first film of the trilogy, Megacities was in many ways the seed for the whole enterprise – including the fact that the film's international success enabled Glawogger to raise the funds for the subsequent two. Less thematically unified than the others, Megacities is a particularly vivid kind of urban anthropology. The film unfolds as a series of twelve episodes set on the mean streets of the slums of Mumbai, Mexico City, New York City and Moscow. Glawogger's thematic preoccupations with the beauty and precariousness of life on the margins helped generate a certain amount of controversy around the film, as did his unabashed – and freely admitted – interventions and re-stagings.

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