In this documentary, filmmaker Bram Van Paesschen takes us to Katanga province, in the south of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Back in the days of Belgian colonial rule, Katanga was a prosperous mining area. It is now a devastated ruin; its vast industrial ghost sites and rusting machinery are now nothing more than a lasting reminder of its glory days... glorious for the whites. Its cobalt and copper ores are literally still there for the taking. Every day thousands of Congolese 'creuseurs' (artisan miners) labor in its abandoned mines, extracting the precious minerals using nothing more than a shovel and crowbar. Via a whole network of local and national intermediaries - each of whom naturally demands his piece of the pie - the fruits of their hard labor are eventually sold on to unscrupulous multinationals. The ores are then exported to the emerging economic superpowers, because these are ravenously hungry for raw materials. And so everyone prospers, except the Congolese diggers; they just stay poor... but when you are hungry you simply shut up and dig. Isaac is one of those 'creuseurs'. In a highly individual and occasionally humorous way, Bram Van Paesschen - who in spite of wishing and wanting, finds himself pushed into the role of 'the white Belgian'- sketches the day-to-day life of this Congolese youth, slaving away in this disconsolate decor. Isaac wants to go to university and hopes his digging will earn him the money he needs to enroll. But things are not that simple. The work is arduous and extremely dangerous. And because the 'creuseurs' are at the bottom of the social ladder, they are the dupes of the political machinations of the powerful players far above them. Isaac's motto is nevertheless "nothing ventured, nothing gained". And so he moves heaven and (lots of) earth to realize his dream. This cinematographic encounter between Isaac and Bram is an epic metaphor for a reality in which thousands of people live, survive and die... day after day.
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