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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Le travail intéresse-t-il encore le cinéma ?

by Anna Musso

Does Work Still Work on the Big Screen?

Translated Thursday 27 January 2011, by Claire Scammell and reviewed by Henry Crapo

Fiction and documentary film directors are back in the workplace creating a synopsis of the past ten years, their cameras finally revealing what goes on behind closed office doors.

“Work is becoming less visible and less transparent, leaving the public domain for the private domain inside institutions which are ever more concerned about their image and how to keep a tight control on it”. There is, according to the founders of the Filmer le travail (Film work) festival, an urgent need to study and to show the nation at work.

The second Filmer le travail festival will run from the 28th of January to the 6th of February in Poitiers in western France. The event brings together professionals from the film industry, academics, workers and the general public to share films and debates about work life and employees. Insecurity, unemployment and the very redefinition of the notion of work are amongst the issues being brought to light.

Over the past ten years, directors have been re-entering the workplace, in spite of the multitude of obstacles they must overcome to get on the inside. Their challenge is to film and to tell worker’s stories without constraint and to interpret power issues and managerial strategies from within.

Certain French films come to mind, Human Resources by Laurent Cantet, Work Hard, Play Hard by Jean-Marc Moutout and the more recent documentary Into Our Own Hands by Mariana Otero. These films offer an intelligent insight into the workplace thanks to the film maker’s sensitive examination of what goes on within the walls of factories and businesses.

Beyond the aesthetic and cultural contribution, showing work is a social and democratic issue.

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