Janja KRALJ (KinoElektron), Guillaume CAILLEAU (CaSK Films )
United by greed and presented in two parts, GOLD MINE begins in the violent equatorial heat of the Surinamese jungle, where Maroon miners compete with gun-toting Brazilian prospectors as they dig through red mud for minute traces of gold dust, risking their lives for the impossible promise of wealth. In a single cut, GOLD MINE moves from these South American illegal mining collectives to the state-sanctioned corporate caves that employ hundreds of workers and gargantuan machines to dig for gold in the frost-bitten tundra of Finnish Lapland. As a Super16mm feature work of non-fiction, GOLD MINE is a dialectic, a 1:1 comparison of a 3,500 year-old mining process realized through radically different means, through disparate local economies and diverging social structures. In part, GOLD MINE is also a work of literary fiction – ending as it does with a loose adaptation of Jack London’s TO BUILD A FIRE – in which the Finnish winter wins out and our non-fiction protagonist freezes to death as he exits the mine. Taking its cues from Jean Rouch (Jaguar) and Lisandro Alonso (Los Muertos), from Ben Rivers (Two Years at Sea) and Charles Burnett (Killer of Sheep), from Steve McQueen (Western Deep) and Harun Farocki (In Comparison), this film couples a verite approach with an articulated notion of participatory ethnography – the featured miners are non-actors asked to perform versions of themselves, and the on-site nature of production is designed to give them even greater feedback and agency in the filmmaking process.