A DAY’S WORK

An observation of progress in a landscape heavily damaged by man.

 

A DAY’S WORK

13 min, 4K, experimental documentary short / 2-channel-installation

A DAY’S WORK offers a glimpse into the harsh realities of manual labor at a moment of relative peace and progress in a remote region of eastern Burma/Myanmar.

In a landscape already scarred by colonialism, logging, land seizure from indigenous peoples, civil war and neglect, the construction of a road looks like a further violation of nature. Yet until recently, the work done on this road—which cuts through areas that repeatedly suffered under the cruelty of the military—embodied progress. The mere possibility of a modern paved road connecting areas controlled by five warring parties (the Burmese army and rivalling ethnic rebel groups) marked a step towards peace and development.

World Premiere at 2021 Tampere International Film Festival – Finland

Vienna Shorts 2021 Austrian Competition – Austria

PÖFF Shorts /Tallinn Black Nights 2021 Live Action Competition – Estonia

21st Kortfilmfestival Leuven 2021 – Belgium

Dharamshala International Film Festival (DIFF) 2021 – India

Opening Film 2021 Freiburger Filmforum, Festival of Transcultural Film – Germany

11th  International Short Film Festival of Cyprus (ISFFC) 2021 – Cyprus

Karama Human Rights Film festival Amman 2021 – Jordan

online preview @ DOK Leipzig Film Market 2020

 

Synopsis

A DAY’S WORK is both a short documentary and a film installation. Without dialogue, contrasting perspectives are shown on split screens, sometimes alternating, sometimes simultaneous. Distant, slow and well-composed aerial shots show an otherwise unattainable perspective, quite literally giving the bigger picture; they are complemented by handheld close-ups that follow the laborers at work, detailing individual actions without much context.

From above, we observe the tar being applied to the road like strokes of black paint. From a distance we notice patterns emerging from the repetitive nature of the work. Slowly, we figure out that this is a road construction site and we observe who is doing what. The men work with the tar. With brute force, they lift large barrels, roll and haul them about; once they have poured the boiling liquid where it is needed, the empty barrels are discarded in the countryside. The men are outnumbered by the many women who continuously lug the enormous amounts of dirt and gravel needed.

The hats and clothes that protect the workers from the sun, dust and smoke, also protect them from our gaze, and with it from judgement. While the camera seeks intimacy, we never get close to the workers themselves. They represent an anonymous global class, one that remains distant from us filmmakers and viewers—a distance highlighted from a drone’s perspective. Towards the end, the camera rises even higher, revealing what is merely a tiny stretch of the 200-kilometer future roadway on which these men and women toil—and the never-ending nature of a day’s work.

 

Context

Since the coup in Feb. 2021, the entire country has been thrown back decades. The brutality inflicted is reminiscent of the horrors committed under military rule in the past—painful memories, all too familiar along the ancient narrow Loikaw-Taungoo road.

After five decades of civil war, dictatorship and isolation, a decade of opening-up, relative peace and democracy followed, bringing hope and a surge in activity throughout the country. A new road was to improve the lives of the people living in the remote hills of Kayah State, and provide long-overdue access to medical care and education as well as to the rest of the country and world. In the interim, the setbacks and obstacles have become larger than the roads that are not being built. As long as the military is in charge, such unfinished endeavors are reminders of all that still needs to be achieved.

 

 

Idea
Max Kerkhoff
Till Girke
Paul Glodek
Johannes Schmidt
Pascal Khoo Twe

Director and editor: Max Kerkhoff
Cinematographer: Till Girke
Sound: Paul Glodek
Producer: Johannes Schmidt
Composer : Franziska May, Isacco Chiaf

Additional editing: Momas Schütze
Additional drone photography: Paul Glodek

Creative consultant
Pascal Khoo Twe

Drone support: Lin Aung

Driver: ဘိုဘို Bo Bo

Thank You
Winnie Mai
International Trade Centre

Workers
ျဖဴေဌးဝင္း Phyu Htay Win
ရွင္ေအးၿငိမ္း Shin Aye Nyein
နာင္လင္းေထြး Naung Lin Htway
တင္တင္ေဆြ Tin Tin Swe
သက္ခိုင္ Thet Khaing
မင့္ေဆြ Myint Swe
စုစုရ Su Su Ya
ဝဒီထက္ျမက္ေမာ္ Wadi Htet Myet Maw
ဆန္းမင္း San Min
မင္းသူ Min Thu
ဘိုမင္းသူ Bo Min Thu
ျမတ္မင္းသူ Myat Min Thu
ေမာင္ထြန္းမင္း Maung Tun Min