Work Hard – Play Hard

Director: Carmen Losmann / 90 min. / 2011 / German (ST: English) / Germany

The pursuit of profit maximization and limitless growth has discovered the human resource. Carmen Losmann has made a deeply disturbing film about modern working environments. The boundaries between work and lifestyle are set to disappear.

Director: Carmen Losmann
Cinematography: Dirk Lütter
Editing: Henk Drees
Production: Anne Even, ZDF/ARTE

Watch the film on Vimeo!

A documentary film about the dissolution of boundaries in work: in the highly qualified service world of the West, people are moving to the center of modern management methods as the most important engine of growth.

A cultural change is sweeping through companies: Time recording and compulsory attendance are considered water under the bridge, trust-based working hours prevail, everyone can work when and where they want. How can companies motivate their employees to perform at their best despite this new freedom? The film pursues this question and, in doing so, enters the construction chambers of contemporary change management, which is able to intervene deeply in human souls.

With a calm, cautious visual narrative, the film shows places where the transformation of the working world can be experienced and observes the ‘change’ functionaries at work. In sparsely-pointed interviews with them, the ideas of a brave new world of work are discussed:

“An office building should never be a place where I am reminded to work.” (film quote)

The documentary initially focuses on new office architectures that generate an entire emotional world for their employees: Observing architect meetings and workforce planning, the impression is that interior design is no longer intended to remind people of work spaces, but to create a feeling of home and a positive, optimistic attitude.

“My vision is to ensure that this cultural change is transplanted into the DNA of every single employee.” (movie quote)

The film portrays potential analyses, outdoor training, meetings of change agents and the presentation of “Human Capital Management” – a software that can record all personality traits. In slow, hauntingly condensed images, the film heads towards an oppressive question: is the human being and his entire personality being hijacked for the purpose of increasing production, and does he end up in the matrix of a total working world?

(text translated with DeepL)

Written and directed by Carmen Losmann
Camera: Dirk Lütter
Editing: Henk Drees
Sound: Ulla Kösterke, Andreas Hildebrandt, Filipp Forberg

Editing: Anne Even, ZDF/ARTE
In co-production with ZDF and in cooperation with ARTE. Production supported by Filmstiftung NRW.
Distributed by: Film Kino Text
World sales: Taskovski Films Ltd.

(texts translated with DeepL)

Filmography Carmen Losmann

Director, Screenplay, Editing: Carmen Losmann
D 2020, 89min, Documentary

Director, Screenplay: Carmen Losmann
D 2011, 90min, Documentary

Director, Screenplay: Carmen Losmann
D 2009, 10min, Shortfilm (Documentary)

Director, Screenplay, Editing: Carmen Losmann
D 2008, 15min, Shortfilm (Fiction)

Director, Screenplay: Carmen Losmann
D 2005, 5min, Shortfilm (Documentary)

“A brilliantly made documentary, excellent and exciting.”
Screen Daily

“Attack on the individual … It grips you with both coldness and fear.”
Frankfurter Rundschau

“The brave new world of work that Carmen Losmann presents so coolly and cleverly in “Work Hard – Play Hard” is terrifying.”
Süddeutsche Zeitung

“The film, which was awarded the Film Critics’ Prize and the Ecumenical Jury Prize, helped the International Competition to gain significance.”

” Work Hard – Play Hard, the icy essay film by an unknown German director, filled a 700-seat movie theater in Leipzig on a Tuesday.”
(Knoben, Martina: So geht es nicht weiter in Süddeutsche Zeitung, 24.10.2011)

“Aldous Huxley meets George Orwell and Franz Kafka. Carmen Losmann comments on the incessant soundtrack splashing of the space and communication thinkers with her clean, tidy images. Welcome to loneliness and alienation in a motivated team!”
“Cool, empty, aseptic, futuristic Cinemascope images. Insights into the brave new world of work, in which idiosyncrasy and individuality in the workplace are terms from the Stone Age.”
(Wehrstedt, Norbert: Schöne neue, eisig kalte Arbeitswelt in Leipziger Volkszeitung, 19.10.2011)

“Cinematographer Dirk Lütter uses a strict widescreen format that allows a lot of space between the people and makes the pressure and systemic constraints of New Management visually transparent. It captures both coldness and fear.”
(Schenk, Ralf: Angriff auf das Individuum in Frankfurter Rundschau, 25.10.2011)

“Losmann finds different formal means to turn her film into a horror trip.”
(Hallensleben, Silivia: Filme aus erschreckenden Welten in Zeit Online, 24.10.2011 — zugriff 14.11.2011)

“Without any commentary and almost no background music, the film relies solely on the expressiveness of its ice-cold, crystal-clear images and the coherence of its scenes, and wins almost across the board.”
“Although the conversations are characterized by managerial new-speak and often seem to consist solely of slogans and fancy-sounding phrases, this “road movie” through the modern working world never leaves you bored, but increasingly fascinated thanks to its powerful images.”
(Kurz, Joachim: Schöne neue Arbeitswelt in:, Zugriff 14.11.2011)

“Carmen Losmann’s social study combines a clear aesthetic concept with a clearly recognizable, but not pedagogically conveyed authorial attitude.”
“The montage reflects the madness of assessment centers and, despite the general episodic or associative accentuation, occasionally plays with narrative and commentary elements without becoming clumsily propagandistic or even denunciatory.”
“The sound level is also remarkable: here, at the end of the first Leipzig day, image and word come together congenially – the instrumentalization of all communication in the service of profit is exposed and, thankfully, enervating “manager wording” is simply faded over with electro sounds.”
(Scheurer, Kyra: Neues Wort und Bild aus aller Welt in Schnitt Online, zugriff: 14.11.2011)

“Most skillfully made, it is thought-provoking and allows us to discuss one of the most important issues of our time — the individuality and personality of today’s workforce.”
“The film encourages the audience to question our relentless search for the Holy Grail — the motivation, journey and goal of maximum productivity and high efficiency at all costs.”
“A critical artistic and creative choice has been made to express this idea, resulting in a memorable film of our time.”
(Jury statement for the Healthy Workplace Film Award,, zugriff: 14.11.2011)

“For its skillful use of a variety of cinematic techniques in telling an alternately sobering and terrifying story about barely imaginable workplaces and companies that use Orwellian “Newspeak” and place more importance on numbers than humanity for their workforce.”
(Statement of the FIPRESCI jury,, zugriff: 14.11.2011)

(texts translated with DeepL)

2011: Kassel Documentary Film Festival: Golden Key
2011: Leipzig International Festival for Documentary and Animated Film – FIPRESCI Prize, Prize of the Ecumenical Jury, Healthy Workplaces Award
2012: Jury of the Protestant Film Work: Film of the Month April 2012
2012: German Film and Media Rating (FBW): Rating particularly valuable
2012: Documentary Edge Festival in New Zealand: Honorable Mention in the “Best Future Watch” category
2014: Grimme Preis