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USA: Seventh Art Releasing
Director: Michael Glawogger
Countries: Austria / Germany
Languages: Russian / Basha Indonesia / English / Ibu / Yoruba / Pashtu / Mandarin / German (English / German / Italian subtitles)
USA: 122 mins
USA Release Date: 24 February 2006 (Limited Release - New York and Los Angeles)
In 1935 the Soviet miner Alexei Stakhanov becomes the workingman's hero. 102 tons of coal in one shift - an unprecedented record-breaking achievement. He becomes a star, hero, politician, and legend. A city in Donbass and a movement are named after him; a towering statue is erected.
Krasni Lutsch, Ukraine. Today Tatjana, Valodja, and Vassili work near the place where Stakhanov once set his famous record. They mine coal from a pit they dug for themselves. It is only 16 inches high. Here they manage to extract just enough coal for their own personal use, and they live on the vague hope of a better future. They are the new HEROES of Donbass.
East Java, Indonesia. For thirty years Pak Agus has been hauling sulfur from the crater at the top of the Kawah Ijen mountain to the valley below. To do this he uses two baskets connected by a yoke. The load on his shoulders weighs between 70 and 100 kilos. Since the volcano is also a favorite destination for tourists from other parts of Indonesia and abroad, his daily route takes him past gaping people who marvel, question, admire, and photograph him and the other sulfur miners. These men are like GHOSTS from a bygone age.
Bunmi Onokoya and his fellow workers roast, wash, skin, portion, haul, deal, run, and hawk every day from morning to noon. During their workday they convert some 350 goats and almost as many bulls from live animals to marketable meat. The workers at Port Harcourt, Nigeria are proud, loud, and lighthearted. They are the ones, after all, who see to it that their fellow Nigerians have food on their tables.
They are as self-confident and strong as LIONS.
Dawa Khan is really a farmer, but in his village the harvests don't yield enough to live on, so he comes to work in Gaddani, Pakistan. He and hundreds of others take apart old tankers with little more than their bare hands, they are the scrappers of the rest of the world's ships. With their strict faith in God and united in the collective consciousness of being BROTHERS in spirit and suffering, they face the day-to-day dangers of explosions and being crushed by large chunks of falling metal.
Meanwhile the FUTURE is unfolding in China. At the Angang steel complex in the province of Liaoning, people believe in the economic boom and in a better tomorrow. They believe more in modernism, knowledge, and technology than blind commitment. In new blast furnaces with familiar-sounding names like "The New No. 1" and in one's own identity. By the Chinese, for the Chinese.
Near Duisburg in Germany the future has already arrived. The blast furnaces here were shut down long ago, but at night they come alive in a blinking array of fantastic colors. Behind the flashy green, red, blue, and yellow lights of the enormous facility the rust fades and seems to disappear.
What was once a monumental workplace is today a leisure park. And beneath Stakhanov's statue a wedding is still celebrated every Saturday.