A passionate romance smolders as struggling miners rise up against their bosses in this period drama set in the late 19th century. Luis (Héctor Noguera) is a wealthy and powerful man who owns a coal-mining operation in Chile. Luis' daughter Virginia (Paulina Gálvez) has just completed her studies to become a schoolteacher when her mother dies of a lingering illness, and she comes home to be with her family. As Virginia's godmother, Isidora (Consuelo Holzapfel), takes over the day-to-day affairs of the estate, Luis turns over the chores of overseeing the mines to his assistant, a ruthless man named Davis (Ernesto Malbran), so he may pursue his own interests. While Luis has long taken a casual attitude toward the welfare of his employees, Davis regards the miners with little more than contempt, and under his watch, poverty spreads and conditions become increasingly dangerous. As Virginia becomes the new teacher at the local school, she learns that her former boyfriend Fernando (Francisco Reyes) is working as a miner, and they soon rekindle their love affair. But Fernando has become aligned with Jonás (Patricio Bunster), a labor activist who is trying to unionize the miners and strip Luis and Davis of their power over the community. Sub Terra received its North American premiere at the 2004 Los Angeles Latino Film Festival.