Our Daily Bread 

Directed by Nikolaus Geyrhalter

An otherwordly counterpoint to Fast Food Nation’s grounded subversion, Our Daily Bread documents the odd environments of enormous industrial farms and food manufacturing plants by casting a cold, clinical lens on the strange practices that take place therein. FFN emphasizes the human cost (economic, social, and political) of the capitalist system; Geyrhalter’s wordless opus (the minimal dialogue spoken by plant workers goes untranslated) creates a purposeful distance between the viewer and the image and yet, in a seeming paradox, makes alien the contents, generating a fresh-eyed look at the grotesque acts we collectively approve to maintain our standard of living. Symmetrical, static compositions, complimented by roving tracking shots, survey the systematic carnage of slaughterhouses and the uprooting of land, while workers toil insignificant under greenhouse tents and through labyrinths of systematized slaughter. Certain images fail to surprise in their powerfull violence, while still affecting disgust, such as the mandatory cow butchering sequence, but others come as stunning revelations: chickens and their baby offspring shuttling through conveyor belts and  then getting sorted by rapidly dispensing pieces of machinery; bundles of hay dumped indiscriminately on caged multitudes of bovine beasts. Any aesthetic “beauty” that could be recuperated from the off-putting and bizarre becomes affectively disturbed and unsettling. Bordering on alien absurdity, Geyrhalter’s work in Our Daily Bread might be considered Vertov revised. In Kino Pravda the Soviet legend filmed a slaughterhouse sequence in reverse to bring a cow back to life. Geyrhalter, as methodically and unhesitatingly as the processes he details, pays respect to linear time and reality by allowing the cow to die, yet in so doing appeals to our sincerest humanity.
Opens November 24

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