How can a documentary film depict something that does not yet exist?


The world premiere of the documentary film "After Work" and a prestigious nomination in the main competition at the documentary film festival CPH:DOX is Erik Gandini's everyday life right now. Erik is a Researcher and Professor of Documentary Film at SKH and is also one of Sweden's leading documentary film directors, with a long and solid experience of filmmaking and socially critical investigation.

On 19 March, the film "After Work" had its world premiere at the documentary film festival CPH:DOX and is also nominated in the competition section Dox:Award. The film is a part of the research project 'The future through the present'. The project, led by Erik Gandini at SKH, together with his co-researchers Roland Paulsen and Jyoti Mistry, challenges documentary film through the untested art form: the future.

– Documentary film as an art form and film genre has traditionally stayed within mainly two chronological axes: the present and the past. We want to break this limitation, exploring a documentary narrative that converses with the future. We want to develop a cinematic narrative that frees documentary film from the confines of the role of the present or past, says Erik Gandini.

Erik Gandini_photo by Jens Lasthein.jpg
Erik Gandini, photo: Jens Lasthein

What happens when society is governed by artificial intelligence and Big Data?
At a time when artificial intelligence, Big Data and algorithms surpass our physical and cognitive capabilities, technology is expected to replace us on a large scale in most professional fields.

– In the public debate, this issue is overshadowed by the technological perspective that overlooks the human aspect, especially in relation to an impending surplus of time. Changing the way we look at work requires creativity and imagination, which should also be a task for documentary film, says Erik Gandini.

From an existential perspective, society faces the question: what will we do when we don't have to work? And it challenges us to formulate a new idea of work and beyond the role it has played so far. Especially in a Western context, as one of the most central activities in our lives.

– With this project we want to get the opportunity to fully implement a collaboration between creative documentary film and sociology of work around an artistic research project. The aim is to primarily produce new relevant knowledge for documentary film but also for the sociology of work, says Erik Gandini.

Approach through experimentation
In order to depict a possible future where people do not have to work, the research team conducted three experiments in three selected primary locations in the world. The selection criteria were the connection with the ideology of work and the prospect of a work-free existence. The documentary film 'After Work' was shot in Kuwait, South Korea and Italy.