WORK (2020)


Documentary | 56 min | USA

WORK documents the recording process of the first album by the Buffalo-based new music ensemble Wooden Cities. The film features 56 minutes filmed during their summer 2018 recording sessions, as well as director Mani Mehrvarz’s interviews with Wooden Cities’ musicians and ensemble director Brendan Fitzgerald. The film also includes cutting-edge animations to two sections of Frederic Rzewski’s The Price of Oil (recorded for the first time ever for this album), emphasizing the piece’s themes of labor and environmental justice, and made using stop motion techniques amounting to over 8,000 frames. Also, featured are Cardew’s Red Flag Prelude—a musical commemoration of the martyrs of the early labor movement—and Wooden Cities’ Chain Gang, a dynamic free improvisation.


Director and Editor: Mani Mehrvarz
Music: Wooden Cities
Animation: Maryam Muliaee
Producers: Buffalo Documentary Project & Wooden Cities
Co-producer: Infrasonic Press
Featuring: Brendan Fitzgerald, Megan Kyle, Ethan Hayden, Nicholas Emmanuel, Evan Courtin, Katie Weissman


“This striking film provides welcome opportunity to meet the musicians of the Buffalo, N.Y. ensemble, Wooden Cities; and see its artistic and educational mission come to life through a series of interviews, rehearsals, and an extended, animated performance. Recommended!”
— Jeffrey Stadelman, Composer

Work captures the collective’s democratic process, as the ensemble decides what kind of music they want to make—and the new Wooden Cities’ album begins to take form. A testament to passion of the performers and the thrill of creation, the film itself is a work of interdisciplinary art, melding documentary footage, music, and cutting-edge animation.”
— Kirsten Miller, New York Times bestselling author

“With an extremely important and present political message, the film, through the dramatization archeology of media, shows us the deep roots of neoliberal exploitation. The compositional structure of the film equally emphasizes the poetic-typographic, musical, graphic-animation treatment of the structure, in comprehensively successful experimentation with form.”
— The Unforeseen – International Experimental Film Festival