WORK

By Michael MCNAMARA

MARKHAM STREET FILMS INC. - as PROD

Documentary - Pre-Production 2016

WORK is an intimate and detailed exploration of the lives of people around the world as they do what they must do all day – work. The film presents stories of workers in both familiar and exotic cultures. It explores how work influences our values, our social status.

    • Year of production
    • 2016
    • Genres
    • Documentary
    • Countries
    • CANADA, USA, INDIA
    • Languages
    • ENGLISH
    • Budget
    • 0.6 - 1 M$
    • Duration
    • 90 mn
    • Director(s)
    • Michael MCNAMARA
    • Writer(s)
    • Michael MCNAMARA
    • Producer(s)
    • Judy HOLM (Markham Street Films Inc.), Michael MCNAMARA (Markham Street Films Inc.), Aaron HANCOX (Markham Street Films Inc.)
    • Synopsis
    • When asked “Who are you?”, people often respond with their occupation: factory worker, office clerk, teacher, farmer. Our jobs tend to be essential to our self-identity. Our job also defines our social status. It’s how others judge us and how we judge them. It is tied closely to class and gender. And it is tied to our human dignity – a person with no work is a person with no means of support. Or identity. For millions, work is what sustains us - not only physically, but also spiritually.

      This film is an intimate and detailed exploration of the lives of people around the world as they do what they must do all day – WORK.

      The film presents stories of workers in both familiar and exotic cultures. It explores how work influences our values, our social status, and contrasts work in the midst of poverty as well as plenty. We see the hierarchies of power at home and at work. The tedium of repetitive work and the challenges of the unexpected. The ravages and the rewards. The heartache and the humour. WORK explores these themes, going deep inside the worlds of workers - from the rooftops of rural villages in India and down into the tunnels of Toronto’s subways.

      The world of work has been dramatically shifting. After 40 years of globalization, what is the effect on the soul of the worker? What can these stories tell us about ourselves?

      WORK is an intimate portrait of human dignity. This provocative and colourful search for the meaning of work is presented in the voices of each of our worker subjects. Using intimate visual observation, rather than interviews or narration, we search for answers to questions about the work they do. To what extent does it define them? Is it neatly packaged and left behind at the end of the day or must they bring it home with them? Do they watch the clock and dream of a life beyond their toil, or is it inextricably part of the air that they breathe?

      Not everyone loves what they do. Studs Terkel wrote that “… work is by its very nature about violence – to the spirit as well as the body.” And the French word for work is travail, which comes from the Latin trepalium – an instrument of torture. Herein lies the essential conflict in our film – the love/hate relationship we each have with something that consumes our lives and dominates our identities. Yet each day we must rise and do it.

      The film then is a stirring and provocative portrait of what it means to be human in the 21st century. What it means to WORK.
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