Daniel Kraus’s WORK Series in Chicago (5/15-20/2010)

For those of you readers who live in Chicago, I wanted to point you in the direction of the Gene Siskel Film Center this weekend, where the first three installments of author/filmmaker/editor Daniel Kraus’s ambitious WORK Series are being shown (May 15th-20th).

That word—WORK—provides the basis for Kraus’s documentary meditations on various individuals who make their living doing very different things. In a stripped down, verite style, Kraus captures these professionals going about their daily grinds without heightening the drama in any falsified way. No broader context is provided. There are only these individuals; there is only the task at hand.

In this current documentary climate, where socially conscious projects seem to get all the grants—and awards—it’s refreshing to encounter a filmmaker who is committed to an ongoing series like this, which proudly embraces a more stripped down approach to the art/craft of nonfiction. It’s as if in this aesthetic choice, Kraus is providing the series with its overarching theme: work is work.

Here’s the schedule:

Professor (May 15: 8pm, May 19: 8:15pm)
Sheriff (May 17: 8:15pm)
Musician (May 20: 8:45pm) (*Read my review here.*)

Fortunately, for those of us not in Chicago, the first two films in the series are available on home video. Buy Sheriff or Musician on DVD, or add them to your Netflix queue asap.

— Michael Tully

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