A NEW SHIFT
CZECH REPUBLIC 94 MIN, 2020
Tomas has been working underground as a coal miner for 25 years. When the mine has to close due to the general decline of coal mining, he is offered a new career as a computer programmer. He enrolls in a state-funded re-education programme, preparing him for one of the most in-demand jobs. Tomas takes up the challenge and gets ready to transform his life radically. But will a forty something long-haired, subterranean punk rocker who has spent his whole life performing hard physical labour ever fit in with the young and trendy digital crowd?
The debuting director and producer who studied film at FAMU, Charles University and Edinburgh Napier. He has received Special Mention Award at IDFF Jihlava 2017 and other awards for his short film The Last Shift of Tomas Hisem. He is just finishing his first feature film called A New Shift - an intimate portrait of dismissed miner who have decided to become computer programmer. With A New Shift he attended Ex Oriente, Doc Incubator CZ and IDFA Academy workshops. As a producer he debuted with short film Pripyat Piano - a film poem from Chernobyl. Pripyat Piano has received Silver Eye Award in 2019 and premiered at Visions du Réel 2020.
In December 2017, the McKinsey Global Institute published a report stating that 800 million workers will lose their jobs in the next 12 years due to automation. On the engineering side, however, millions of new positions will open. This on-going industrial revolution will mostly affect manual workers, who will now need to make some radical changes in order to survive. Tomas’ story is an early example of this.
With A NEW SHIFT I wanted to create a bridge between the two groups affected by the movement. Manual workers on the one side and corporate industries on the other side.
The last industrial revolution was driven by coal and steam. The current one is driven by smart computer algorithms. Tomas experiences 100 years of human labour transformation in just one year. In the film, we explore what this transformation does with our bodies, psyche, behaviour, how we shape, how we look. On a deeper level, it touches on the subject to which I am returning repeatedly: the disappearance of authenticity from people’s lives, through technological development.
Miners are straight-forward people. If you are digging 1,000 meters under the surface in 35 degrees, facing danger on a daily basis, you don’t think about how you look or communicate. But when one enters the job market looking for a job as a programmer, a communication game begins, with the candidate and the company both pretending to be better than they are. When actually getting the job, these communication games develop even further. You are often forced to play along with small political games, to present things in certain ways. Soft skills play a crucial role. Does this mean we’re deviating too far from our instincts? I wanted to answer this by placing the coal mine and the corporate environment in contrast. And I hope Tomas’ story is so surprising and inspiring, that it will touch audiences with both these backgrounds. On the one hand, I hope to inspire companies and show them why it is a good idea to give a 50-year-old man a chance. I also hope that Tomas’ story creates a better understanding between the middle and the worker’s class. And finally, I hope the film will give confidence to the many manual labourers who are losing their jobs at the moment. As Tomas shows, you can take your life into your own hands at any age.
- Dok Leipzig / Germany
- Ji.hlava IDFF / Czech Republic
- Millenium Film Festival / Belgium
- Zagrebdox / Croatia
- Crossing Europe Linz / Austria
- One World / Czech Republic
- Fipa Doc / France
DOKer 2021 — Main Competition