When people talk about Western Australia (WA), they often mention the importance of the mining industry for the region, particularly how it has contributed to the economic welfare of the region.
While mining is vital for WA's economy, filmmaker Pete Gleeson was interested in what it means for an outsider to be introduced into this isolated space.
In the documentary “Hotel Coolgardie,” he tells the story of two Finnish girls Lina and Steph who come to Australia with a work-and-travel visa and decide to work as bartenders in a mining city in Coolgardie. Lina and Steph are "[h]arangued by their new boss, relentlessly pursued and pilloried by booze-addled patrons, and prey to the madness and malaise of an environment as claustrophobic as it is isolated" (IMDb). The documentary gives the viewer an idea of what it means for a young woman to live and work in a mining town. It's exhausting.
At the same time, the pains of the locals bubble up in serious, dark, and personal disclosures. In this way, Pete Gleeson has left room in the documentary for the viewer to see glimmers of a human sadness, rather than starkly painting all of the locals as villains. These moments are rare, and don't excuse the inappropriate behaviour that dominates the film. Perhaps that pain is a driver behind their behavior, creating a need to escape through booze and sex.
While this movie is a case study with a small sample size, it makes the viewer ask the question to what extent the work characteristics of this job generalize to other rural cities in WA. How do local norms dictate local jobs for other groups of people? How might these types of jobs change in the future? Or will they remain the same?
For more information about this movie and when it screens, click here.