Release year: 1995
Run time: 48 mins
Film type: Documentary
This is a documentary about coal miners. In the Qilian mountains of Qinghai Province, where the altitude is over 3,600 metres and the air thin, there are numerous small coal mines in which work around 200 miners aged 17 to 50. Every day, they must crawl through pits 60 to 70 metres deep just to carry out 30 loads of coal. Each load weighs 50 kilogrammes. The miners earn 500 yuan a month, without insurance. Miners normally suffer from pneumoconiosis after working four or five years in the mine and cannot work thereafter. They usually spend their wages on building houses, marriage, and tuition fees for their children. If they die in an accident, their family receives a 5,000 yuan pension. This film is a record of these working conditions, and of human labour.
Hu Jie is an independent historian, artist, and filmmaker. Born in Jinan, Shandong in 1958, he graduated from the Art College of the People’s Liberation Army. He works in oils and woodcuts from his lakeside studio in Nanjing. His films are among the most important documents of China’s unacknowledged “unoffcial history”, and include Looking for Lin Zhao’s Soul (2005), about a martyr-poet critic of Mao; and Though I Am Gone (2007), about an elite Beijing girls’ high school whose students murdered their headmaster at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution.