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Untertage 2004

UNTERTAGE is Jiska Rickels’s already twice-awarded graduation film. It is a beautiful depiction of one day in the life of the miners in the Lohberg-Osterfeld coal-mine in Germany. In little carts, men descend into the subterranean corridors. Beside an arrow on a wall is written ‘Zur Hölle’ (to hell). Deeper and deeper, the camera penetrates the interior of the earth, where darkness reigns and strange sounds of people and machines are distorted into a frightening cacophony. At the end of the day, the miners come back up, towards the daylight. There, they change and rinse the dust from their pores. Because the explosion hazard in the mine made it impossible to shoot with modern electronic equipment, an old 16mm spring-driven Bolex camera and an old Nagra reel-to-reel tape recorder were used. This gives the footage a coarse-grained, impressionistic quality.

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