Millennials Adrift

Eduardo Williams’s new documentary focuses on the cruelty of the job market for young people in three different countries

 

The world can be a cruel place for the young entering the job market, particularly in developing and underdeveloped countries where jobs are scarce and wages don't guarantee subsistence.

Argentine filmmaker Eduardo Williams has been making insightful, poetic and visually thrilling cinema around this theme for some ten years. His first feature, The Human Surge (2016), shows the young in dire straights in three distinct countries: Argentina, Mozambique and the Philippines. The employed can be merciless towards the jobless: young girls in Mozambique mock their male friend – ‘Coitado!’ (you poor thing!) – when he complains about dreadfully long hours and the tedium of his menial job.

Williams sympathizes with his protagonists, though his film is too fluid and keen on catching the quirkiness of everyday speech and capturing languid moods to act as agitprop. Although the young in his films have one distinct advantage – technology is as natural to them as breathing – their ability helps them precious little. Their computers are outdated and their connections unstable. What occupies their time is chat room sex – for money, preferably. In this sense, as some critics have long predicted, the technology that brings us closer is also making the world more polarized, the haves cut off from the have-nots.

Yet not all the imagery in The Human Surge evokes dread. Outside factory walls, there are forests and savannas. Williams channels his passion for travel into his work and his characters are often afoot in unusual settings: ruins or giant unfinished apartment complexes; mysterious caverns and jungle. This natural world, full of wonder and beauty, adds a timeless, fable-like feel to Williams’ documentary aesthetic. This hybridity is also emphasized by Williams’ shifts between formats, from 16mm to video. His milieu is savvy, social-media driven but also imbued with nostalgia for the analogue world.

The Human Surge is playing as part of the New York Film Festival’s Projections programme.

Ela Bittencourt helps select films for It's All True International Documentary Film Festival and works as a critic and curator in the US and Brazil.

Most Read

London’s fourth plinth artists announced; a new fund to protect cultural heritage in war-torn areas
Annika Eriksson, The Social, 2017, wallpaper and objects on a shelf, 500 x 450 cm. Courtesy: The artist and Moderna Museet, Malmö
 
Moderna Museet, Malmö, Sweden
Paul Scheerbart, Nusi-Pusi, 1912. Courtesy: Berlinische Galerie/Kai-Annett Becker
From a short history of plagiarism to Trisha Brown's walk: what to read this weekend
Q. What is art for? A. To tell us where we are.
The work of filmmaker James N. Kienitz Wilkins on the occasion of his inclusion in the 2017 Whitney Biennial film...
Trisha Brown has died, aged 80; two new appointments at London’s ICA; controversy at the Whitney
A round-up of the best shows to see in the city ahead of this week’s Art Basel Hong Kong
How should the artistic community respond when an art space, explicitly or implicitly, associates itself with right-...
Charlie Fox on a new translation of Hervé Guibert's chronicle of love, lust and drug-addled longing
Three highlights from the New York festival promoting emerging filmmakers
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, USA
A report and the highlights from a show themed around fluidity, flux, botany and the subterranean
From growing protests over the gentrification of Boyle Heights to Schimmel leaving Hauser & Wirth, the latest from...
kurimanzutto, Mexico City, Mexico
Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich, Switzerland
The body is a troubled thing ...
Sir Howard Hodgkin dies aged 84; finalists for Berlin’s Preis der Nationalgalerie 2017 announced

From the Women's Strike to a march that cancels itself out: what to read this weekend
The most interesting works in the IFFR’s Short Film section all grappled with questions of truth, honesty and...
With the reissue of their eponymous debut album, revisiting the career of legendary Berlin art project / punk band Die...
Galeria Jaqueline Martins, São Paulo, Brazil 

Tramway, Glasgow, UK
A work by self-taught artist Martín Ramírez
Munich’s Haus der Kunst embroiled in Scientology scandal; Martín Ramírez to inaugurate the new ICA LA
If politics today obsesses over the policing of borders, art in France is enacting multiple crossings
A new video installation from Richard Mosse investigates the refugee crisis
Gustav Metzger has died aged 90; director of the Met resigns
What draws us to certain stories, and why do we retell them? 
It’s time that the extraordinary life and work of Anya Berger was acknowledged

Latest Magazines

frieze magazine

Nov - Dec 2016

frieze magazine

Jan - Feb 2017

frieze magazine

March 2017