workers leaving the factory (again)

Katharina Gruzei combines a sociopolitical issue and a precise formal concept, which is rare in experimental film. Inspired by the Lumière brothers’ first film, La sortie de l’usine Lumière à Lyon, which shows a large number of workers leaving their factory’s gate, Gruzei begins in the interior, in a passageway (made to seem incredibly long by the editing) that emerges from the darkness. Solely portions of the corridor — a production line at the closed Austria Tabak factory — flash into view in the buzzing neon light. The impressive sound and choreography of light were taken from an installation by the artist in the empty spaces.
The backs of the first workers, with their coats and bags, gradually enter the picture, and the camera accompanies these individuals as they leave their place of work. More and more of them walk down the dark, flickering hallway. By these scenes the weirdness of the space and the menacing quality of a mass of people who could form a resistance movement becomes increasingly evident. All relevant questions concerning the on-the-job reality experienced by these workers, most of whom are women, can be formulated by means of association: Is it nighttime when they leave the factory? What kind of work do they have to do? What do female laborers earn these days? How long does it take them to get home from this monstrous factory, and when will it be moved to a low-wage country?
When all the protagonists briefly gather as if for a photograph and look straight into the camera, it makes you wonder what a fight for humane labor would have to be like at present to be successful. The automatic gate opens and closes silently to release the anonymous crowd.

(Brigitta Burger-Utzer)

In 1895, in the German title of the film by the Lumières Brothers, it was simply male workers that were leaving the factory, even though there were clearly more women than men to be seen. Gruzei, in her reinterpretation, renders moot the assignment of gender in title and picture. In the flickering light of the film, the camera shows silhouettes and swims with the mass of people exiting the tobacco factory. Only at the end is the original scene recreated, but this time with extended perception.

(Diagonale Catalog, 2012)

Orig. Title
Die ArbeiterInnen verlassen die Fabrik
11 min
Katharina Gruzei
Orig. Language
No Dialogue
Katharina Gruzei
Concept & Realization
Katharina Gruzei
Renate Bauer
Recording technique
Johannes Ramsl
Production Manager
Katharina Riedler
Claudia Dworschak
Randolf Helmstetter
Supported by
Arbeiterkammer, Förderverein der Kunstuniversität Linz, ÖH Kunstuniversität Linz, Kärnten Land, Land Oberösterreich, Kultur Linz
Available Formats
Digital File (prores, h264) (Distribution Copy)
Blu-ray (Distribution Copy)
Aspect Ratio
Sound Format
Frame Rate
25 fps
Color Format
35 mm (Distribution Copy)
Aspect Ratio
Sound Format
Dolby Surround
Frame Rate
25 fps
Color Format
Festivals (Selection)
Wien - VIS Vienna Independent Shorts (VAM NACHWUCHSPREIS)
Prizen/Kosovo Dokufest Doc Film Festival
Kassel - Dokumentarfilm- & Videofest
Mar del Plata - Int. Film Festival
Paris - Rencontres International Paris/Berlin/Madrid
Graz - Diagonale, Festival des österreichischen Films
Hamburg - Int. Kurzfilm-Festival & No Budget
Lima - Peru Int. Short Film Festival
Linz - Crossing Europe Film Festival (Local Artists Award)
Denver - Int. Film Festival
Washington - National Gallery of Arts shows "Sixpack: The Austrian Experiment"
Seoul - EXis (Experimental Film- & Videofestival)
Sao Paulo - Short Film Festival
Rio de Janeiro - Femina Women Film Festival
Wroclaw - New Horizons Festival
Villach, Udine, Ljubljana - K3 Short Film Festival
Rio de Janeiro - Mostra Curta de Cinema
Rotterdam Architecture Film Festival
Barcelona - L’ALTERNATIVA - II Mostra Internacional de Cinema Alternatiu
Dallas - Video Festival
Ris-Orangis Festival du cinéma
Izmir Short Film Festival
Nashville Film Festival (Best Experimental Short)
Stuttgart - Filmwinter, Expanded Media Festival
Hong Kong - Int. Film Festival
Rotterdam - Int. Filmfestival
Regensburg - Kurzfilmwoche
Osnabrück - EMAF - European Media Art Festival
Jeonju - International Film Festival
Karlovy Vary - Int. Film Festival
Vila do Conde - Festival Internacional de Curtas-Metragens
Wroclaw - New Horizons Festival