Kief Davidson and Richard Ladkani's documentary is a powerful indictment of the horrendous treatment of children who toil in hellish Bolivian silver mines. The filmmakers are better at fashioning haunting images than offering hard-nosed analysis, yet they never sentimentalize their young protagonists' plight. At the center of their story is 12-year-old Basilio Vargas, who endures both a suffocating mine and the taunts of more prosperous classmates at school; his daily struggles are emblematic of the lives of hundreds of children with little hope of escaping either an accidental death or the slower agonies of silicosis. Davidson and Ladkani wisely refuse to inject any sort of moral lift into their grim tale—Basilio is never unaware of the looming presence of the “Tio,” the merciless devil of the mines who offers only death and privation. In Spanish with subtitles. 82 min.
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