KICK OUT YOUR BOSS

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by Elisabeth Scharang

grade: 7.5

In Kick out your Boss, Elisabeth Scharang does not aim to make precise statements on the subject. She does not aim to expound certain theories concerning the conditions of workers all over the world. On the contrary, she leaves ample freedom for the audience to draw their own conclusions and make their own considerations.

The pleasure of working

It was only during the days of the quarantine due to the Covid-19 outbreak that people apparently realised the possibility of being able to manage their work differently, perhaps working from home, in a much more relaxed and less stressful environment. Yet, there are those who have already been thinking about such solutions for some time. Perhaps even without working from home. Perhaps by doing everything possible so that workers can work in more agreeable conditions. In this regard, the documentary Kick out your Boss – directed by Elisabeth Scharang in 2014, which was presented during the Diagonale 2014 and, following the cancellation of the Diagonale 2020, was included in the programme Diagonale 2020 – The Unfinished – shows us up close what benefits could be achieved by adopting certain measures in the working environment.

Already appreciated in the field of fictional cinema, Elisabeth Scharang, in realising her Kick out your Boss undertook a long journey between Austria, Serbia and Brazil, in order to document certain realities concerning some companies that focus first and foremost on the well-being of their workers. These are En Garde – an Austrian design company – the Brazilian Semco and the Serbian pharmaceutical company Jugoremedija. And while the latter was taken over by the workers who worked there following worker uprisings in recent years, becoming a sort of second home for them, En Garde and Semco have managed to set up certain realities without real bosses, where the workers manage themselves, in extremely pleasant locations – often even surrounded by greenery – and perhaps even having the opportunity to do some stretching and relaxation exercises before starting work.

It almost seems like a world of its own, this one told by Elisabeth Scharang’s camera. And, beyond the realities described, what is most striking in a film like Kick out your Boss is precisely the intent with which it was made. And here, the documentary’s website also comes into play, where, within a platform, a debate open to all has been initiated, during which proposals are made freely to formulate new ways of understanding work.

Elisabeth Scharang, for her part, does not aim to make precise statements on the subject. She does not aim to expound certain theories concerning the conditions of workers around the world. On the contrary, she leaves the audience ample freedom to draw their own conclusions and make their own considerations. The director, for her part, interacts with the protagonists by asking them simple, direct questions, such as “Are you happy?” or “What does happiness mean to you?”. And such a simple, serene, seemingly naïve mood pervades the entire documentary.

One immediately feels oneself part of a reality of its own, the moment one starts to watch Kick out your Boss. And the reality represented – thanks also to a highly relaxing and contemplative music score and predominantly pastel-coloured cinematography – almost seems to belong to the world of fairy tales. Whether (also) thanks to this project, one can really begin to understand work differently one day, is yet to be seen. And, without wanting to be overly optimistic, one could even quote another film by Scharang: In Another Lifetime.

Original title: Kick out your Boss
Directed by: Elisabeth Scharang
Country/year: Austria / 2014
Running time: 95’
Genre: documentary
Screenplay: Elisabeth Scharang
Cinematography: Elisabeth Scharang
Produced by: KGP Gabriele Kranzelbinder Production

Info: the page of Kick out your Boss on the website of the Diagonale; the page of Kick out your Boss on iMDb