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.
Nominated for Healthy Workplaces Film Award