As We're Told

  • Erik Holmström, Fredrik Wenzel
  • Sweden
  • 2017
  • 28 min
  • World Premiere
  • IDFA Competition for Short Documentary
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"It's simple! We do as we're told." This disconcerting reply comes from a Swedish employment office employee when asked how the country’s most unpopular government agency works. And that’s not all: in this creative documentary, case workers, receptionists and psychologists reveal how the Swedish employment system is failing. They complain about inadequate software and mystifying error messages, excessive caseloads and demoralizing results—on average, each case worker helps just 10 people find work each year, and only one in 10 clients will find a new job. To assure the anonymity of the interviewees, they're all represented by cardboard puppets. Thanks to visible puppeteers, expressive eyes and recognizable gestures, these puppets quickly take on the appearance of real people. The result is a fascinating, comical and artistic study of human strategies to get along in an irrational bureaucracy.


  • 28 min
  • color
  • DCP
  • Spoken languages: Swedish
  • Subtitles in: English
Erik Holmström, Fredrik Wenzel
Hedvig Lundgren for Fasad Production
Film i Väst
Fredrik Wenzel
Fredrik Wenzel, Erik Holmström
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IDFA history

World Premiere
IDFA Competition for Short Documentary

Share this film

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IDFA history