DOK Leipzig Film Festival

Pure Charcoal

Pure Charcoal

Fränz Röösli keeps cursing out loud. The fire has eaten a hole in his charcoal kiln, it’s the middle of the night and he is trying to contain the damage, making the embers, smoke and fire glow, smoke and burn as they should with a few stabs of his stick. Fränz Röösli is a master of fire, a vanquisher of fire – almost the only expressions that will do justice to the archaic beauty of his trade. The only commercially operated charcoal kilns in Western Europe today are found in Entlebuch in the canton of Lucerne. It takes about five weeks until a kiln is stacked and burnt and the charcoal is shovelled into bags and loaded on trucks to be sold.

With a mimetic interest in the temporalities and rhythms, the cyclical work processes and eternally repeated movements of the charcoal burning trade, Swiss director Robert Müller shows us how wood is transformed into charcoal – step by step, layer by layer, shovelful by shovelful, curse by curse. Having watched this film it’s easy to understand why this remote craft has no recruitment problems.

Lukas Stern

Nominated for Healthy Workplaces Film Award
Original Title: Köhlernächte
Country: Switzerland
Year: 2017
Language: Swiss German
Subtitle: English
Runtime: 92 min.
Format: DCP
Color: Colour
Director: Robert Müller
Producer: Carola Kutzner
Cinematographer: Pio Corradi, Luzius Wespe, Robert Müller
Editor: Kathrin Plüss, Mirella Nüesch
Music: Fritz Hauser
Sound: Guido Keller, Thomas Gassmann, Simon Graf, Salome Wüllner
Script: Robert Müller

The annotations to the films in the Official Selection were written by the members of the selection committee and guest authors. All quotes from DOK Leipzig 2017 catalogue articles must be identified as such and cite the author's name. All articles where no author’s name is given are production notes.