The screening of Michael Glawogger’s, Working Man’s Death, at this years Tolpuddle Radical Film Festival has an added poignancy as it has been announced today that Michael (54) died on April 22nd of an aggressive form of malaria tropica while filming in Liberia.
Michael was always on the go, rarely stopped to take a break, no time to rest, not even at the very end. In the middle of the night on April 22 he died in West Africa on the runway of the Monrovia Airport. At just 54 his life was cut short while he was shooting a new large-scale film for which he had set out on a journey around the world. Since the previous friday Glawogger had been running a fever, which local doctors had initially thought to be a symptom of typhoid fever. Actually, however, an especially aggressive form of malaria tropica was already raging inside him but wouldn’t be discovered until Monday. Despite the emergency air transports that had been arranged to take him first to the capital of Liberia and then to Vienna, Glawogger only made it to Monrovia, initially to the hospital, then to the airport, where he died from multiple organ failure.
Michael Glawogger was internationally famous first and foremost for his three iconoclastic feature documentaries “Megacities” (1998), “Workingman’s Death” (2005), and “Whores’ Glory” (2011). And yet until the end it was usually a struggle for the Graz-born director to get his films financed – ORF and the Vienna Film Fund had slammed the door in his face many times. And that despite the fact that he was an all-rounder of sorts: As cinematographer, writer, and director he wasn’t afraid to work in practically every genre and format. He started out making experimental shorts in the 1980s, and along with wild documentaries he soon shot a number of feature films, including comedies to which he liked to give a surreal twist, for example “Ant Street” (1995), “Slugs” (2004), and “Contact High” (2009).
Glawogger’s films generally did not conform to bourgeois morals. He loved to “pay tribute to old whores” (in “Megacities” and “Whores’ Glory”), to show the funny side of drug abuse (in “Contact High”), and in “Workingman’s Death“ he exposed the lyrical core of grueling manual labor in images. “The moralist was always the enemy of art,” he used to say. His intention, of course, was never to just present terrible things. “I set out to make films about the beauty of man. That’s why I’m horrified when people say my films are depressing or appalling.” To him the sight of a single-family dwelling somewhere in suburbia was always more appalling.
God bless you Michael and thank you for allowing us to show your film free of charge.