In Tanzania, a poor man works long hours to uncover from the bottom of the earth materials that add to his poverty and suffering and enrich another - that stranger remote from the work site.
It is like a forgotten world emerging from the depths of human history. When the father of humanity was expelled from paradise, he knew that his punishment was to work for a living, but he did not imagine that the work could be strenuous and would turn into a curse on his descendants.
There are three films or three visual aspects in one film: Mathieu Tortona, and Nicolas Angeleno and Emily n. Lucas, Alida and Fannie, Giuliano Jaireli production, in collaboration with the movies Babidok, supported by the Turin Piedmont Film Commission.
|Nyaragoso is on his way to digging in the gold mine that makes others wealthier but increases his poverty (Al Jazeera)|
Three documentaries are intertwined to the point that it feels like one film. The authors chose to shoot it in black and white. The unifying theme or common denominator among them is work, especially in the first two films: working in the depths of the earth in the first film, and on the sea surface in the second, but in the third film, work is present and absent: present through the work of the priest in guiding humanity, and absent behind the evil of the unseen world according to beliefs. The priest's task is limited to disabling the work of evil embodied in cases of the acquisition of hysteria, especially controlling some women.
In Tanzania, a poor man works long hours to uncover from the bottom of the earth materials that increase his poverty and suffering but enrich another - that stranger remote from the work site.
Since 2006, the extraction of gold from the mines in Tanzania increased tremendously. Workers from a local mine were often deprived of their land for the benefit of multinational foreign companies.
It is a recast of the Hegelian dialectic between master and slave in its worst forms. Exploitation is evident: the extracted gold goes to the civilized world, while the extractors remain suffering from the rigors of living. Labor does not benefit those who work - not more than peanuts. It is a return to the womb and then a rebirth doomed only to misery.
An elderly man tells us how he extracted in one day a piece of gold the size of a human head that could have secured him a prosperous life, but the fruit of his work was picked up by another, while he endlessly continues his work to no avail, like Sisyphus in Greek mythology.
Sailing into the unknown
The second film begins with the people of one of the missionaries inviting poor African villagers to return to God. It is a village of fishermen sailing at night in search of their daily livelihood - fish. They spend the night under cover of darkness sailing into the sea with a lamplight they prepared before sailing, and made their boat and nets ready. They return at dawn to the village with their gains, only to repeat their quest on the second day, like workers in the gold mines, sarcastically singing "Africa is bad, and we are not here in France".
|Vulnerable people on earth have no control of their fate, and their lives are governed by misery. What is the solution? How can the lost paradise be recovered? How can one escape from the daily experienced hell?|
In the previous story, we saw a confrontation between the weak and the mighty sea. This film starts off from the end point of the previous film on a boat, but here it is not a fishing boat but a ship carrying crowds of people as if we were on the day of resurrection, streaming with haste toward the temple as if they were on a date with themselves and with their Creator.
They turn from light to darkness and back into the light again. In the building, we see a curtain, a woman, and a few steps away another woman reading, and a third lying on the ground motionless. In the temple, we hear the voice of the priest preaching on the believers and asking the Lord to address the destruction of the doubt and directing the misguided to the path of truth.
The most important moment in the film is when one of the therapists expels from the body of a woman a demon inhabiting her body. We go out, and the night prevails with a crescent at the center of the sky, and then we hear the voice of the muezzin announcing the triumph of good over evil. The traditional healer then terminates the guidance process and then the sect celebrates the victory of the Lord by burning the tools and the house of the person who was guided to the right.
The film was shot a week before the celebration. These tales end with voices that speak different languages, including Arabic, and then names of the film makers appear on the screen.
Despite its simplicity, it is beautiful work as it holds many humanitarian issues and indirectly propounds the relations between the North and the South, and how the civilized world, as it is called, does not care about oppressed peoples' issues, but it often exploits them.
Human justice, in any case, remains incomplete driven by individual and immediate interests. Were Hobbes and Spinoza and Nietzsche right when they incorporated right and might? Spinoza, for example, says that a big fish has the right to swallow a little one because it is more powerful. Vulnerable people on earth, not in control of their own destiny and their lives, are governed by misery. What is the solution? How can the lost paradise be recovered? How can the daily experienced hell be escaped? The net result is that work in mines or into the sea sometimes opens up the gate that leads to destruction, and hope remains locked into a tomato box.
These three tales are a blend of the bitter reality and the unreachable dream, of material things and spiritual affairs, especially in the last story. Salvation comes from faith, or perhaps from an opening in the sky emitting a light of hope that shines at the end of this film, which can direct us to the path of safety.
* A Syrian writer based in Doha