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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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Michael Tully is an award-winning writer/director whose films have garnered widespread critical acclaim, his projects having premiered at some of the most renowned film festivals across the globe. He is also the former (and founding) editor of this site. In 2006, Michael's first feature, COCAINE ANGEL, chronicling a tragic week in the life of a young drug addict, world premiered at the International Film Festival Rotterdam. The film immediately solidified the director as one of Filmmaker Magazine’s "25 New Faces of Independent Film,” a reputation that was reinforced a year later when his follow-up feature, SILVER JEW, a documentary capturing the late David Berman's rare musical performances in Tel Aviv, world-premiered at SXSW and landed distribution with cult indie-music label Drag City. In 2011, Michael wrote, directed, and starred in his third feature, SEPTIEN, which debuted at the 27th annual Sundance Film Festival before being acquired by IFC Films' Sundance Selects banner. A few years later, in 2014, Michael returned to Sundance with the world premiere of his fourth feature, PING PONG SUMMER, an ‘80s set coming-of-age tale that was quickly picked up for theatrical distribution by Gravitas Ventures. In 2018, Michael wrote and directed the dread-inducing genre film DON'T LEAVE HOME, which has been described as "Get Out with Catholic guilt in the Irish countryside" (IndieWire). The film premiered at SXSW and was subsequently acquired by Cranked Up Films and Shudder.

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