Wayward Labours gathers filmmakers attentive to the revolutions in minor key displayed in the lives and voices of people engaged in various forms of domestic work. In the 16mm silent short Katanga (Haileselassie, 2021, 2’, Canada), the time of labour and the time of consumption coalesce. The film suggests that forms of memory work labour, and labour directed towards the self offer reparative and insurgent possibilities. Fannie’s Film (Woods, 1981, 15’, USA) stands in affective proximity to Katanga, in its emphasis on pleasure and satisfaction in the protagonist’s contagious happiness. The film’s nonlinear temporality juxtaposes the bodily exertion of Fannie as she cleans the pilates studio, and the exertion of the customers as they work out. In a Q&A at the 2019 Courtisane Festival, Fronza Woods recounts that no matter how much she expected, even desired, anger from Fannie, she couldn’t get it out of her. Fannie’s contagious happiness and luminous speaking, humming and singing voice ended up defining the film. A Mother’s Body (Twum, 2020, 8’, Sweden) responds to Fannie’s Film in a cinematic call and response. With powerful contrast, distant, clinical images of domestic workers cleaning are overlapped with the intimate voiceover of a daughter reflecting on her mother’s alienated labours. Distance is also key to the surrealism of Three Atlas (Charles, 2018, 6’, Haiti). On a discursive level, the maid suspected of murdering her employer answers the police in diggressive but strikingly evocative ways. Visually, the camera only lingers on the outskirts, focusing on exteriors, windows and facades.
Haileselassie, 2021, 2′, Canada (silent)
a disjointed process of the filmmaker’s mother making katanga (ka-tinn-yaa) in analog film. A simple dish which represents survival, kinship and resourcefulness.
A Mother's Body
An intimate portrayal of two women hotel cleaners from a daughter’s perspective, addressing how their profession affects their bodies and relationship to time.
A 65-year-old cleaning woman for a professional dancers’ exercise studio performs her job while telling us in voiceover about her life, hopes, and feelings. A challenge to mainstream media’s ongoing stereotypes of women of color who earn their living as domestic workers, this seemingly simple documentary achieves a quiet revolution: the expressive portrait of a fully realized individual.
A maid is suspected of murdering her former employer. Questioned by the police, she will reveal the existence of a supernatural power.