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The Devil's Miner
The Devil's Miner
Actors: Basilio Vargas, Bernardino Vargas
Directors: Kief Davidson, Richard Ladkani
Genres: Indie & Art House, Documentary
NR     2006     1hr 22min

Directed by long-time collaborators Kief Davidson and Richard Ladkani, THE DEVIL'S MINER is a moving portrait of two brothers--14-year-old Basilio and 12-year-old Bernardino--who work deep inside the Cerro Rico silver mine...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Basilio Vargas, Bernardino Vargas
Directors: Kief Davidson, Richard Ladkani
Genres: Indie & Art House, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Documentary
Studio: First Run Features
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 05/23/2006
Original Release Date: 01/01/2005
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2005
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 1hr 22min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: Spanish
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

Real Life Bolivia, Real Life Children, Excellent DVD
Pearse O'Sullivan | Lexington, KY | 05/25/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This story, the story of child laborers in the "3rd world" is a harrowing account of poverty and misery. But it is also a story about hope, the hope that these children, and the some 800 other children who work the same mines, can get out of the life and acheive something more than the certain death that awaits all of such miners. What a great movie, you actually start to feel clausterphobic when the camera takes you to the deepest depths of the mines with these children. You feel your throat start to close up when you watch these workers walk through the dust without masks.

This movie explains why someone like Evo Morales has come to power in Bolivia, and anyone who derieds such a humble man as Morales needs to watch this DVD."
Seldom does a documentary capture both my mind and heart
Allan M. Gathercoal | Norcross, GA | 06/25/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Seldom does a documentary capture both my mind and heart, yet 'The Devil's Miner' does just that. This is more than an entrance into hell on earth; it is the story of a child captured by the beast of poverty and despair.

Because of my humanitarian work I have been inside the La Cumbre silver mine, the mountain that eats men. This excellent documentary captures the darkness and dome of those that scrape out a meager living, while at the same time giving the viewer hope for those trapped. There is a light at the end of the shaft, a very small distant light, but light nonetheless.

This is a must view for all who will be going to Bolivia and especially for those who will visit this mine in Potosi. Excellent. Highly Recommended."
Child Laborers In Bolivia
Chris Luallen | Nashville, Tennessee | 07/14/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Basilio and Bernandino Vargas are two Bolivian kids who, because of the death of their father, have to work as child laborers in the Cerro Rico silver mines. Basilio works long shifts for $2.50 a day. But then transfers to a more dangerous mine where he is able to make $4.00 a day. Somehow he manages to also attend to school, though he has to spend a substantial amount of his salary just to pay for his school uniform.

One of the great things about this doc is that the film makers have a sincere humanitarian purpose. They not only want to educate viewers about the horrors of child labor. But actually do something tangiable to better the lives of these kids.

Included in the bonus features is a short film which shows how Basilio and Bernardino are doing one year after filming. Apparently an aide agency called Kindernothilfe has enabled the boys to leave the mines, move their family into a apartment in Potosi and continue their educations so they will have better opportunities in life.

I wish these great youngsters, and others like them, all the best. They deserve it!"
Living in Poverty with a Hope for the Future
Jan Peczkis | Chicago IL, USA | 05/29/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This movie is eye-opening. It shows how life in poor countries is very different in so many ways from that in the affluent USA.

What's it like to work in silver mines when you are still a child? This Spanish-language movie, with English subtitles, tells it all. The father had died years ago, and the mother must take care of younger children. So, as is true in other situations where the oldest child must grow up fast and assume many of the responsibilities of the missing parent, the 14 year-old boy must work to support the family. So does his 12 year-old brother. When the 14 year-old moves on to the larger, more profitable mine (in the "mountain that eats people"), the only consolation is the fact that the foreman pledges to the mother that he will watch out for the boy. Mining is arduous and dangerous. The miners of all ages must chew on coca leaves (the precursor to cocaine) in order to combat fatigue.

Most cases of child labor involve situations where generations of people are trapped in poverty. This situation is potentially different. The larger mine has pneumatic drills, suggesting that technological improvements in Bolivian mining will eventually make child labor unprofitable and therefore obsolete. The 12 and 14 year-old boys go to school in hopes that they can get safer and better-paying jobs when they are older. They wear uniforms that their mother can barely afford. As a professional educator, I am struck by the respect for education and its contrast with the often superficial attitudes of American parents and children towards the schooling process.

Both children and adults in this area believe that, whereas God rules the world above ground, the Tio (Satan) rules the underworld. In order to avoid tragedies and to be granted access to good veins of silver, the miners must pay homage to the devil by praying to him, lighting candles to him, and offering him gifts of tobacco, alcohol, etc. The boys explain the origins of this devil-worship: When Spanish colonists forced Indians to work in the mines, the latter sometimes rebelled. So, to instill fear, the colonists told the Indians that if they balked at working, the devil would punish them. A local priest explains how he tries to combat this old superstition.