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Witness
Underground Heroes
The story of Ukrainian miners who risk their lives with hardly a second thought.
Last Modified: 03 Dec 2009 09:15 GMT

Watch part two

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

It is 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 idealised 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".

As the men seemingly go to hell and back, day after day, year after year, to eke out subsistence livings, the film chronicles their exuberance, vitality and teamwork in their back-breaking work carried out with a minimum of complaint.

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.

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

Source:
Al Jazeera
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