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Updated: December 9, 2013 19:42 IST

All in a shot

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Exploring labour across the globe: Harun Farocki. Photo: V. Sreenivasa Murthy
The Hindu
Exploring labour across the globe: Harun Farocki. Photo: V. Sreenivasa Murthy

German filmmaker Harun Farocki throws light on his project on labour and his passion for films

Though the Bard wrote “All the world’s a stage and the people are merely actors,” in the Elizabethan age, the lines hold true for German filmmaker Harun Farocki to this day.

The acclaimed director was in the city recently with writer, artist and wife Antje Ehmann for the video installation of his global project ‘Labour in a Single Shot’ sponsored by the Goethe-Institut.

The project, spanning 15 cities across the globe, integrates the results of research and workshops and throws light on labour – paid and unpaid, material and immaterial, traditional and contemporary – all captured in a single shot. It started off as a topic to his students in Vienna many years ago. “The challenge was to take the subject matter in a single shot,” says Farocki. “It took a long time and I was very happy with the results. Then we had the idea that we must organise a worldwide exhibition and in a certain way compare the similarities and differences of labour across the globe.”

Farocki explains that the interesting aspect is that before montage was introduced in cinema, especially in the period before the World War I, many films consisted of just one shot. “This kind of reduction is interesting since we are in a time when there are multiple cameras and computer effects. The single shot makes you look at the very essence of the location and try to tell a lot with just one shot.”

There is hardly anything as underrepresented in cinema and cinematography as labour, says Farocki. “The social aspect of labour is also a good key to a foreign country. The labour in a country gives you a deeper insight into the state in which it is in. It makes for a good topic and is quite general, informative and imaginative,” he says.

Bangalore is no new place for the 69-year-old. The veteran filmmaker first came to the city in 2008 and more recently last year for workshops. His first impression was fantastic, he says. “When I showed films here I realised the strong presence of women. Active women are a strong feature in Bangalore.”

Showcasing his project in Tel Aviv, Boston, Berlin and Bangalore among other places, Harun says they liked it here in Bangalore. “Since we had already been here before, it seemed like a good idea coming back, especially since Bangalore is a modern, dynamic city.”

The cinema world attracted Farocki when he was around 15. “Literature and theatre were doing big at that time and the success of the New Wave was catching on fast. Cinema was a world apart and generated a huge interest in me. The media was just expanding and television was growing. The market was out there and at that time I sensed that it would be a field where I could earn a living.”

In terms of cinematographic representation, Harun says the line between live action and animation seems to be thinning. “Earlier, there was a strong belief that once the miracle of a painting was not only that it was somehow similar to nature but also that humans have the skills to produce such an amazing representation of nature. Now the procreative capacities of people have gone to mostly animations. It seems like a huge counter-development.”

Farocki has been exposed to Indian cinema but says that he doesn’t know much about it. “I am often astonished at the high quality of drama and sentiment. At the same time, it’s amazing to see such fine technical approaches and digitalisation of works. On a parting note, Farocki tells upcoming filmmakers to find the right space to cash in on their talent. “It has become easy to make films now, but it’s very important to find your own signature and style, especially if you want to be an independent filmmaker,” he adds.

The writer, filmmaker and video artist from Czechoslovakia, presently based in Berlin, has brought out over 100 productions for television or cinema experimenting in children’s television, documentary films, film essays and story films.

The filmmaker’s project is on display up to December 14 from 2 to 8 p.m. at the Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan on CMH Road. Call 2520 5305/6/7/8 for details.

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