[QODLink]
Witness
Heroes
Miners in Ukraine toil away amid brutal conditions in abandoned coal seams in the snowy Donetsk valley.
Last Modified: 06 Mar 2008 14:46 GMT

Director: Michael Glawogger

Award-winning documentary-maker Michael Glawogger introduces us to Ukranian miners, illegally digging for coal in abandoned seams in the snowy Donetsk valley.

Heading home from the coal face
It’s cold, dirty and dangerous work as the men crawl on their bellies in the cramped conditions of the mine to hammer away at the rock and extract chunks of coal.

After a hard day’s labour, the men recall the old Soviet propaganda which idealized hard, manual labour as a personal vocation and a national duty.

“I’m not getting rich or making a profit,” says one miner. “I’m doing this to survive, no more no less.”

This is a film of few words but plenty of indelible images of men risking their lives with hardly a second thought.

As the men seemingly go to hell and back, day after day, year after year, to eke out subsistence livings, the viewer is struck by their exuberance, vitality and teamwork in discharging backbreaking duties with a minimum of complaint.

Dirty work
The simple act of doing the work, no matter how dangerous, seems to give their lives structure and purpose; triumphing over fear adds to their sense of accomplishment.

This film is part of a longer film by Michael Glawogger entitled Working Man’s Death which depicts those toiling away at some of the world’s most mind-bendingly agonizing professions.  Each film is a harrowing and visually-stunning excursion into the brutal realities of life for manual labourers across the world. Witness is airing another film from this work entitled Brothers. 

Your Comments:

Add your comments on this film.


Click here to see a selection of Witness episodes online.

Click here to view the in your area
Schedule.

To contact us with comments on the film, click on 'Send your feedback' at the top of the page.

Topics in this article
People
Featured on Al Jazeera
UNHCR says hundreds of people trapped in Yaloke town risk death if they are not evacuated to safety urgently.
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Featured
Long-standing dispute over Christian use of the word 'Allah' raises concerns about a very un-Merry Christmas.
The threat posed by ISIL has prompted thousands of young Kurds to join the PKK.
Baja California - with its own grim history of disappeared people - finds a voice in the fight against violence.
Russian feminist rockers fight system holding 700,000 - the world's largest per capita prison population after the US.
Weeks of growing protests against Muslims continue in Dresden with 15,000 hitting the streets last Monday.