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.
13min | Germany, Myanmar | 2021
Directors: Max Kerkhoff
German-Austrian-American filmmaker and editor. First studied ethnology (MA), then film editing (MFA) at Film University Babelsberg. Through shooting and teaching workshops, he spent much time in Burma, Rwanda, Tunisia, Guinea, Mali, and other countries. Moving between these places deepened his desire to make those patterns and aesthetics of globalization visible that are changing the world around us.
Writers: Max Kerkhoff, Till Girke | Producers: Johannes Schmidt | Editing: Max Kerkhoff | D.O.P: Till Girke | Sound: Paul Glodek | Language: No Dialogue