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The guests at a high-class hotel in Berlin take delight in the fresh sheets and pillows on their beds, in the smooth napkins and tablecloths. But who washes, irons and starches all this linen?

Hans-Christian Schmid follows the laundry on its way from Berlin to the Polish town of Gryfino, where it is washed at a laundrette called "Fliegel" that belongs to a German businessman. Here Polish workers keep the machines going around the clock for low wages. The director accompanies the women home and let's them tell their story. Along with the camera we gain insight into lives dominated by the work routine. Monica and her husband seldom see each other because they both work shifts. The three children of single mother Beata make their own sandwiches for school each morning. Marta has lost her job at the laundrette and now wants to train as a beautician. The matter-of-fact, unself-pitying way these women talk about their lives becomes a commentary in its own right in this purely observing documentary. The Wondrous World of Laundry shows women and their families fighting for their own little piece of happiness in the midst of globalized working conditions and daily toil.

Anke Leweke

Production: 23|5 Filmproduktion GmbH, Berlin; RBB, Potsdam; ARTE G.E.I.E., Strasbourg

Screenplay: Hans-Christian Schmid

Camera: Bogumił Godfrejów

Format: 35mm (filmed on Super16), Color

Running Time: 93 min.

Languages: Polish, German

Photo: © 23|5 und RBB/Arte, 2008

Funded by:

  • Logo Minister of State for Culture and the Media
  • Logo des Programms NeuStart Kultur