Not insistently political, still "The Devil's Miner," part of the Human Rights Watch Series collaboration between Human Rights Watch and First Run Features, is a hard watch. On the one hand, there are the riches of silver taken from this village and shiningly enjoyed elsewhere in the world since the 16th century; in Potosi, the highest town in the world, there remains poverty, with the danger and disease of the mines that make corpses of most men before they are 40 -- which, of course, is likely what awaits Basilio, if his schooling doesn't rescue him. Mostly Catholic souls, the miners of Cerro Rico on entering the caves revert to a primitive belief in Tio, the mountain devil who determines their fate; moviegoers in happier climes are likely to realize that the miners' true devil lives elsewhere. Directed and produced by Kief Davidson and Richard Ladkani. A First Run release. Documentary. Spanish-language; subtitled. Unrated. Running time: 82 min
The Devil's Miner
At times it feels as if not cameras but the audience has been transported to the high mountains of Potosi, Bolivia -- and not so much physically but somehow spiritually. In this story of the literally dirt-poor miners of the scant remaining silver inside Cerro Rico ("the mountain that eats men alive"), documentarians Kief Davidson and Richard Ladkani have taken a subtle and quiet approach -- an effect heightened by frequent silences during which only the camera speaks, and by having most of the dialogue spoken by a fatherless 14-year-old boy, Basilio, who out of love for his family works double shifts (day through night) to help support his mother and two smaller siblings.