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Acclaimed Austrian director Michael Glawogger, famed for his hard-hitting documentaries on the lives of the desperate poor, has died while on a shoot in Africa.
Glawogger, whose oeuvre includes his documentary trilogy exploring the world of work — Workingman’s Death, Megacities and Whores’ Glory — as well as dramas such as Slumming and Kill Daddy Good Night apparently died in Liberia after contracting Malaria.
Glawogger had been in Africa gathering material for a new project.
“With horror and great dismay we have received the news of the sudden death of Michael Glawogger,” industry association Film and Music Austria reported on its website Wednesday.
The 54-year-old director last worked on the 3D architectural documentary series Cathedrals of Culture alongside such luminaries as Robert Redford and Wim Wenders. In Glawogger’s segment, he examined the life and history of Russia’s National Library. Cathedrals of Culture premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival in February.
In much of his work, particularly his documentaries, Glawogger examined the impact of modernization and globalization on the working poor in developing countries. 1998’s Megacities was a look at the precarious lives of those working on the edge in four very different cities: Mumbai, New York City, Moscow and Mexico City. Workingman’s Death (2005) looked at the extent to which people in desperate economies will go to make a living, including Indonesians collecting sulfur from an active volcano and butchers at an open-air slaughterhouse in Nigeria. Whore’s Glory (2011) examined the world’s oldest profession with portraits of working girls in Thailand, Bangladesh and Mexico.
But Glawogger was no one-issue filmmaker. He also made several feature films, among them the dramedy Slumming — which screening in competition in Berlin in 2006 — the literary adaptation Kill Daddy Good Night (2009) and the episodic druggie comedy Contact High (2009).
His films won numerous awards, including the London Film Festival’s Grierson Award for Workingman’s Death; the Austrian Film Award for best documentary for Whore’s Glory and the best screenplay honor at the Ghent International Film Festival for Slumming. Workingman’s Death also received a DGA nomination for outstanding directorial achievement in documentary as well as a best documentary nomination at the European Film Awards.
“Glawogger was one of the most prominent feature and documentary filmmakers that Austria has every produced,” wrote Austrian producer Danny Krausz (Sunshine) on behalf of Film and Music Austria in tribute to the late director.
“Glawo, your unexpected and tragic early death tears an eternal hole in our film landscape!”
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