Dir/scr: Carmen Losmann. Germany. 2011. 90mins
A measured and brilliantly crafted documentary, Work Hard, Play Hard is a remarkably assured debut film from Carmen Losmann. Focusing on changing perceptions of the workplace the film mixes a clinically precise tone with a social conscience and some dark satire.
This is often a disturbing work thanks to the fact that the majority of the interviewees (usually in management) don’t have any idea how soulless they are coming across.
Receiving an enormously positive reception at its World Premiere at the 54th Dok Leipzig Film Festival – where it received the FIPRESCI Prize amongst other awards – it should start a healthy life on the festival circuit where it should prove popular at doc fests and beyond. The compelling aesthetics of the film also means that theatrical releases would not be out of the question and one thinks that distributors will be eyeing the film with interest over the coming months.
The film begins with an examination of the building of a new office block for Unilever and how both architects and company bosses want to change the idea of the ‘office workplace’ into a ‘social space’. We soon see executives talking about how – instead of working in offices – employees can now book ‘work spaces’ to suit their needs. We are also given a glimpse of team building exercises and psychometric testing couples with interviews in which corporate speak seems to outweigh the humanity of the workforce.
This is often a disturbing work thanks to the fact that the majority of the interviewees (usually in management) don’t have any idea how soulless they are coming across. Along with Losmann’s formal excellence – changing rhythms to suit various scenes and composing some stunningly beautiful shots – this is an excellent and sometimes chilling modern documentary.
Production companies: Hupe Film, ZDF
International sales: Hupe Film, www.hupefilm.de
Producers: Erik Winker, Martin Roelly, Andreas Brauer
Cinematography: Dirk Lütter
Editor: Henk Drees