Life Is Work - Papers, discussions and screenings led by Professor Ewa Mazierska

22nd May 2010

Venue: Screen 4 - ME110

Time: 2-7 pm

Length: 5 hours

This inventive and thought-provoking event takes a cinematic and cultural journey through working life, as represented on screen in different countries and in different times. Combining presentation of papers by leading academic experts in the field of cinema alongside clips of films and a panel discussion.

Sitting at the heart of the first LIFE, this event is a must for film enthusiasts, film students and those with an eye and ear for European cinema and a desire to find out something new and engaging.

Speakers are Prof. Martin O’Shaugnessy, Dr. Ben Halligan, Dr. Phoebe Moore, Dr. Michael Goddard, Dr. Jonathan Owen and Prof. Ewa Mazierska from UCLan.

This event is dedicated to discussing working life, as represented on screen in different countries and in different times. It will include presentation of papers, showing clips of films and panel discussion.  Speakers are Prof. Martin O’Shaugnessy from Nottingham Trent University, Dr. Ben Halligan, Dr. Phoebe Moore, and Dr. Michael Goddard from Salford University, Dr. Jonathan Owen from the University of Manchester and Prof. Ewa Mazierska from UCLan.


The main idea is to discuss Fordist vs. post-Fordist work practices as represented in films such as Tout va bien and Passion by Jean-Luc Godard, Man of Marble by Andrzej Wajda, Michael Moore's Roger and Me and Capitalism: A Love Story, Boss of it All by Lars von Trier, Rosetta by Dardenne Brothers and a recent documentary by Charlotte Goavert, Silver City, concerning Polish migrant workers in Aberdeen. It is expected that the discussed issues will include: production versus consumption, male vs female work, work vs labour, work under socialism and capitalism, immaterial labour and toxic management structures.  
 
Martin O’Shaugnessy
Filming in the rubble: French film and the world of work.
Writing about the working class, veteran critic and film-maker Jean-Louis Comolli has suggested that they have been subject to a double eclipse: having been comprehensively outmanoeuvred on the socio-economic battlefield, they have also suffered a symbolic defeat that has rendered them effectively invisible and inaudible. Even when they are still able to resist, they are fully aware that a collective capacity to listen to their voice or to see them as agents of historical transformation no longer exists. Following this larger shift, French film-makers have largely turned their backs on work and workers. Those who have bucked this trend and filmed workplace struggle have tended to show losing battles or desolate figures, thus confirming the very defeat they had sought to oppose. Resisting the pessimism of this analysis, this paper will suggest that, not content simply to record a defeat, French fiction films and documentaries have repeatedly gone into the workplace as a way of forcing social struggle back into visibility and audibility, thus refusing the fiction of consensus or of the post-class society. At the same time, they have used the resources of cinema to restore a voice to those seemingly condemned to silence.

Martin O'Shaughnessy is Professor of Film Studies at Nottingham Trent University. He is the author of Jean Renoir (Manchester University Press, 2000), The New Face of Political Cinema (Berghahn, 2007) and La Grande Illusion (I. B. Tauris, 2009). He is interested in classic French cinema, political film, cinema and globalisation, and the works of Jean Renoir and of the Dardenne brothers.
 
Michael Goddard, Benjamin Halligan and Phoebe Moore
Cinema and Work in Post-Fordist Conditions: A Panel Discussion featuring Michael Goddard, Benjamin Halligan and Phoebe Moore
 
Cinema first developed as a key compoenent of industrial culture embodying key aspects of Fordist production and the Taylorist organisation of labour. This can be seen clearly in the Hollywood studio system in which there is a direct link between the Taylorist assembly line of industrial production and the Hollywood chorus lines of Busby Berkeley musicals. Nevertheless cinema was also instrumental in the post WWII transformation to a post-industrial culture and the emergence of what Jonathan Beller has called the 'cinematic mode of production' and that the situationists referred to as the 'society of the spectacle': this is the world of both consumerism and of the artisanal auteur which are fully embodied in the work of Jean-Luc Godard. However, in the contemporary world in which this post-fordist transformation is more completely realised we have arguably entered an entirely new regime of precarious, 'immaterial' and fractalised work. This has also been expressed in transformations of cinema which loses its privileges and medium specificity in a complex digital mediasphere and embodies new forms of cooperative and cyborg labour in its transformed modes of production and circulation.
 
This panel will discuss how this new situation for both work and cinema is expressed in a variety of films including Antonioni's Blow-Up which was one of the first films to deal with forms of 'immaterial' production, Lars von Trier's The Boss of it All which deals not only with a post-industrial mode of production but applies this mode to the construction of the film itself and Ulrich Seidl's Import-Export which presents a variety of post-communist and biopolitical forms of labour in the context of the shifting constitution of East and West in Europe, as well as other examples like Office Space and The Bothersome Man. The discussion will focus on the ways these films not only represent post-fordist and precarious forms of labour but embody them in their processes of production and in some cases foreshadow transformations in modes of work that are still emergent. The panel will raise the question of whether these films might be seen as a type of collective, distributed intelligence or general intellect in relation to post-fordism.
 
Michael Goddard teaches media studies at the University of Salford. In his current research he focuses on Central and East European cinema and visual culture, particularly in Poland from the 1960s to the present. His recent publications include the monograph Gombrowicz, Polish Modernism and the Subversion of Form (Purdue, 2010) and the collected volumes The Fall: Art, Music and Politics (ed. with Benjamin Halligan, 2010), Subcultures and New Religious Movements in Russia and East-Central Europe (ed. with George McKay, Christopher Williams, Neil Foxlee, and Egidija Ramanauskaite, 2009), and Italian Effects a special section of Cultural Studies Review (ed. with Brett Neilson, 2005). He has also published book chapters and articles on Polish and European cinema, as well as on film and cultural theory. He is now working on a book on the cinema of the Chilean-born filmmaker Raúl Ruiz. In addition to the above-mentioned interests, he is conducting research into 1970s media ecologies in the spheres of militant cinemas, free radios, and post-punk music.
 
Benjamin Halligan completed his MPhil and PhD in the Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies at Aberystwyth University and is Director of the Graduate School of Media, Music and Performance at the University of Salford. His critical biography Michael Reeves (Manchester University Press, 2003) is currently in development for a biopic. Other publications include considerations of Andrei Tarkovsky's aesthetics, disco and 1970s television sci-fi and the co-edited collection Mark E. Smith and The Fall: Art, Music and Politics (Ashgate, 2010).
 
Phoebe Moore lectures in International Relations and International Political Economy, and has two interrelated research interests: international labour struggle; and post-capitalist models for socio-political economies that can resolve labour struggle, some of which are found in digital communities. Dr. Moore has recently published with Paul A Taylor in the special issue she edited with Athina Karatzogianni for Capital and Class on work in peer to peer communities (Parallel Visions of Peer to Peer Production Issue 97, 2009); has published a piece on the transformation of UK education as a result of policy pressure to the labour force (JCEPS June 2009); and is conducting a project that provides comparative case studies of industry's role in education in South Korea, Singapore, and the UK and identifies the role of technology in employability and subjectivities, in her book International Political Economy of Work and Employability (Palgrave 2010). She has also published work on Turkey and EU accession. Phoebe is an active member of the Manchester Film Cooperative. She is organizing the workshop Media Ecologies to be held at University of Salford on 3rd November 2009; and the seminar series Trade Unions in the 21C (Leeds, Salford, TUC London).
 
John Cunningham
Miners on Film
Worker hero, Stakhanovite, perennial victim of exploitation and equally its most steadfast opponent, the representations of miners on screen has varied enormously over the years. This presentation will look at and discuss a selection of these images from the UK, USA, France, Poland and elsewhere and will also revisit the famous British documentary Coalface.
John Cunningham teaches Film Studies in the Department of Stage and Screen at Sheffield Hallam University. He has published widely on aspects of Eastern European cinema including his book Hungarian Cinema From Coffeehouse to Multiplex and he is currently finishing a study of the Hungarian director István Szabó. He is also the Principal Editor of the journal Studies in Eastern European Cinema. Prior to obtaining a TUC scholarship to study at Ruskin College, Oxford he worked for four years as a coalminer at Dinnington Colliery, South Yorkshire.


Jonathan Owen
Intellectuals, Iconoclasts and Idlers: Work and (Formal) Play in East European New Wave Cinemas
This paper will examine representations of work in the East European ‘New Wave’ and auteur cinema of the 1960s and ‘70s. The liberalisation of the communist system throughout the 1950s and ‘60s initiated a sustained reaction to the officially prescribed aesthetics of socialist realism. I want to show that differences in the attitude to work were central to the rejection of socialist realism, defined as the latter was by its assertion of the value and dignity of work and by its privileging of manual labour in particular as the site of revolutionary agency, progress and pleasure. This stance is subjected to a two-fold attack in the new cinemas: on the one hand, the notion of work is expanded or redefined, with new kinds of ‘workers’ (intellectuals, students) being presented, while, on the other, the workplace is itself displaced as the site of revolutionary (or any other) agency and the principle of work rejected in favour of other forms of activity (play, eroticism, etc). I will suggest how these shifts were rooted not only in the opposition to state socialist orthodoxy, but also in broader social and economic changes and in the rise of 1960s radical utopianism. This paper will concentrate principally on Czechoslovak, Polish, Hungarian and Yugoslav cinema, and examine, among others, such auteurs as Věra Chytilová, Jiří Menzel, Jerzy Skolimowski and Dušan Makavejev.


Jonathan Owen recently obtained his doctorate at the University of Manchester in the UK. His doctoral dissertation, which he is currently adapting to book form, dealt with the influence of surrealism and other avant-garde traditions on the Czech New Wave films of the 1960s. His research interests include European (especially Central and East European) cinema and the Czech avant-garde from the interwar period to the present.


Ewa Mazierska
Searching for alternatives: The evolution of the motif of work in Jean-Luc Godard’s cinema in the years 1972-1982
Work is regarded as an important topic of Jean-Luc Godard’s cinema. He frequently shows in his films people working and discussing work and its representation. A testimony to this interest is also the method of his work, which consists of shooting, along with full-length feature films, their shorter versions (scénarios or petit notes), which often document the process of filmmaking. Off-screen Godard also emphasises the importance of working to his identity.


In this paper I will examine how the representation of work changed in his films over the years 1972-82. I will consider three films: Tout va bien (1972), Sauve qui peut (la vie) (1979) and Passion (1982), discussing a number of issues, such as the way Godard represents manual and creative/intellectual work, the work of men and women, and the relationship between work and other activities. I will attempt to locate the shifts in his representations of work against the historical background.


Ewa Mazierska is Professor of Contemporary Cinema, School of Journalism, Media and Communication, University of Central Lancashire. Her publications Masculinities in Polish, Czech and Slovak Cinema (Berghahn, 2008), Roman Polanski: The Cinema of a Cultural Traveller (I.B. Tauris, 2007), Polish Postcommunist Cinema (Peter Lang, 2007) and with Elżbieta Ostrowska, Women in Polish Cinema (Berghahn, 2006) and with Laura Rascaroli, Crossing New Europe: The European Road Movie (Wallflower Press, 2006).
 
Film screenings
Charlotte Govaert, ‘Silver City’
(a documentary about Polish emigrants in Aberdeen)

 

 



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