MACHINES, India’s sole entry at Sundance, bags award
Best Cinematography to DOP, Rodrigo Trejo Villanueva
A World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Excellence in Cinematography was presented by Marina Stavenhagen to Cinematographer Rodrigo Trejo Villanueva for Machines, an India, Germany, Finland co-production and the directorial debut of Indian filmmaker, Rahul Jain.
This intimate, observant portrayal of the rhythm of life and work in a gigantic textile factory in Gujarat, India, moves through the corridors and bowels of the enormously disorienting structure — taking the viewer on a journey of dehumanizing physical labor and intense hardship.
To the south of the Indian metropolis of Surat in Gujarat province lies a vast industrial zone that has been growing ever since the 1960s. Director Rahul Jain filmed the grueling daily routine in just one of the many textile factories there. In the factory, man and machine seem to have fused into one being. It is dark and dank, and barely any daylight penetrates the space. The labor is heavy and mind-numbing, and the work days seem endless. We are drawn into a gloomy world where the cacophonous beat of machinery sets the rhythm of toil. Jain is as interested in the mysterious connection between worker and product (the fabrics are treated mechanically, but also with love) as he is in the degrading conditions. Each shift lasts 12 hours, for adults and children alike, and wages are extremely low. Short interviews are interspersed throughout the observational sequences, some of which are captivating in their beauty while others are painful to watch – such as when we see a boy nodding violently in his struggle to stay awake. (Synopsis from 2016 IDFA Catalogue)