The Devil's Miner (2006)
"The Devil's Miner" follows two brothers, 14-year-old Basilio and his 12-year-old brother Bernardino, who live in poverty with their mother in the mountains of Bolivia. They work long shifts in the Cerro Rico silver mines, braving deadly conditions to earn enough money to attend school. Daily the brothers go into the underground mining tunnels and tempt fate in order to gain a better life. Through the children's eyes, we encounter the sixteenth century mine, where devout Catholics sever their ties with God each time they enter the shafts, because of the ancient belief that the devil, as represented in the hundreds of statues constructed in the tunnels, determines the fate of all who work there. Raised without a father, the boys assume many adult responsibilities and must work to afford the clothing and supplies vital to their education. Basilio believes only the mountain devil's generosity will allow them to earn enough money to continue the new school year. Without an education, the brothers have no chance to escape their destiny in the silver mines. … More
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Critic Reviews for The Devil's Miner
This documentary which exposes the twin evils of child labor and silver mining, is a most powerful expose' of an ongoing, mass-scale human tragedy.
The flawless progress of this documentary lies in the filmmakers' unwavering fealty to their subjects.
A horror movie? Nope -- documentary. Though there is, I think, a good horror movie to be made here.
The film has a tendency to repeat itself, even within its short running time of 82 minutes, but is still able to express a sincere sorrow.
It's a simple film with a direct message, but the glimpses of the surrounding social culture that has adapted to the horrors give (it) its identity.
It's a testament to the filmmakers' subtle storytelling skill that we come to see these boys as heroes as well as victims.
A role-model of a boy with the great skill to articulate his impressive determination and plan for self-improvement.
While political and social context is kept to a minimum, the darkly poetic images they capture speak volumes about what the miners go through.
At times it feels as if not cameras but the audience has been transported to the high mountains of Potosi, Bolivia -- and not so much physically but somehow spiritually.
Basilio narrates his tale with such wit and wisdom that one comes away from the film wondering how much youthful potential is slowly being choked to death deep within the bowels of the earth.
Guaranteed to leave you outraged at the way children -- and, for that matter, adults -- are exploited by mining companies.
Directors Kief Davidson and Richard Ladkani go underground themselves to expose a form of near-slavery instituted by the Spanish conquistadors more than four centuries ago.
Kief Davidson and Richard Ladkani's documentary The Devil's Miner is so polished that it might pass for a scripted narrative feature, but that's not a bad thing.
A sobering day trip, more for its hints of a forgotten history of culture collision than its sensible but rote socioeconomic sympathies.
A study in courage and harrowing portrait of a 14-year-old boy who works in a Bolivian silver mine, The Devil's Miner is an unforgettable journey through hell under the earth, where Satan is worshipped as king.
Though they're telling a story of potentially deadly child labor, filmmakers Kief Davidson and Richard Ladkani never amp up the drama, wisely preferring a straightforward approach that respects the bleak reality of their subjects.
Audience Reviews for The Devil's Miner
[font=Century Gothic]"The Devil's Miner" is a documentary about Basilio, a 14-year old mine worker in the silver mines in Bolivia, who has been working there for the last four years while his 12-year old brother assists him. Sometimes he works 24 hour shifts, gnawing on coca leaves to give him energy to stay awake. Life expectancy is 35-40 years for the average miner because of silicosis which is due to inhaled dust particles. Conditions in the mines are bad anyway because of risky explosions and poisonous gas. If his father had not died some years before, he would not have to work in the mines.(The mines were started in colonial times by the Spanish who exploited the Indio population as slaves. You can see how little things have changed over the years.)[/font]
[font=Century Gothic]"The Devil's Miner" is a heartbreaking documentary that is told entirely from the point of view of Basilio, his family, other workers and a local priest. I might have had concerns about using a child to talk about a miner's life as a cheap ploy to get sympathy but it works as a look into a possible future, not only for him but for all of the other miners. Basilio goes to school and wants to become a teacher. He sees the mines as a temporary situation. Let's hope so.[/font]
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