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The Solitary Life of Cranes

Listening to the 19 London construction-crane operators whose voices we hear in Eva Weber’s The Solitary Life of Cranes, it’s hard not to think of Orson Welles’ Harry Lime, prodding Joseph Cotton on that Vienna Ferris wheel in The Third Man: “Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving forever?” Actually, these guys would. Says one driver of the pedestrian commuters beneath him, “They haven’t got time to look at things. It’s sad.” “You want to do something for them,” says another. “But stuck up there…you can’t alter what you see.” A companion piece to City of Cranes, which showed at Silverdocs last year, Weber’s short pairs these guilelessly eloquent musings with gorgeous bird’s-eye shots of London—its grand old buildings, its private (or so they thought!) roof decks, and its undulating flower bed of umbrellas. Many of the drivers marvel at the incongruity of enjoying something close to silence while the London cityscape pulses beneath them. —CK


In Shutdown—a memoir read over a series of eerie long frames—Scottish filmmaker Alan Bisset depicts the Marxian alienation of life in the town of Falkirk in the 1980s, which for many of its residents was lived exclusively in relation to the nearby Grangemouth petrochemical plant. If you thought Scotland could only be bleak in a dark-moors, literary sort of way, consider the following excerpt from Bisset’s narration: “Out with the self, in with the worker: I am a drone; I am manpower; I am unskilled labor; my personality ceases to exist for the coming 12 hours; my mind will not be tested; I will listen, and then follow instructions, and then I will sleep, and then I will rise, and work for another 12 hours, and then I will sleep, and then I will work, and then I will sleep, and then I will sleep, and then I will sleep.” Welcome, my friends; welcome to the machine. —SK

At noon on Tuesday, June 16. Also on Wednesday, June 17, at 4 p.m. at AFI Silver. Also showing in this program: Chungking Dream and Plane Days