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The Coal Miner's Day

The Coal Miner's Day

"That's the fire emergency system. If there's a fire, it bursts and the water falls down," one of the mineworkers explains. He is talking about a few bags of water, all the size of a fist, somewhat haphazardly hung from the low ceiling of the mineshaft. "Like a huge waterfall."

Every day hundreds of men risk life and limb going down into the Buzhanska mine in the Ukraine to mine coal with rusty old tools from the Soviet era. It is heavy, unhealthy, hazardous work, which thanks to the relatively high pay-two to four times what people earn in the city-is nevertheless tempting to many young men. Once a year, they are honored during the Day of the Mineworker-another relic from the Soviet era, when the most deserving workers receive a rose from the director of the mine in a kitschy ceremony.

For the rest of the year the workers are ignored, pestered or intimidated by their bosses, and no one is concerned with their safety. THE COAL MINER'S DAY documents their work underground, their comradeship and dissatisfaction in and around the mine over the course of a year. Gradually overcoming the skepticism of the mineworkers, the filmmaker captures a series of oppressive, revealing moments.

"By no means as grimly dour as basic synopsis may suggest, the film works beautifully as a droll interrogation of how documentary filmmakers interact with their subjects, as well as an opportunity to glimpse working conditions in a remote and rarely-visited corner of Europe."The Hollywood Reporter

"Extracts universal truths from shrewdly chosen details."Chicago Tribune

"An intriguing glimpse of labor conditions in a far-flung area of Eastern Europe... Highly recommended."Video Librarian

"The film captures the strenuous and claustrophobic nature of the work and the age and fragility of the equipment that they use...A Coal Miner's Day is effective at illustrating a job that few of us will ever do but that many people have spent-or given-their lives doing."Jack David Eller, Anthropology Review Database


Main credits

Mocaër, Gaël (film producer)
Mocaër, Gaël (film director)
Mocaër, Gaël (screenwriter)
Maingot, Xénia (film producer)
Hatwell, Leigh (film producer)

Other credits

Cinematography, editing, sound, Gaël Mocaër.

Docuseek2 subjects

Distributor subjects

Eastern Europe
Labor Studies


Ukrainian; coal mines; Coal miners; Ukraine; workers; Buzhanska; Gael Mocaer; documentary; coal; film; video; DVD; ; "The Coal Miner's Day"; Icarus Films; "The Coal Miner's Day"; Icarus Films,doc; science

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