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These Hands1992

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  • 4.0
Who would have suspected that a forty-five minute documentary about women crushing rocks, without narration or plot, would offer one of the most unforgettable and rewarding experiences of recent African cinema? Flora M'mbugu-Schelling's quiet tribute to women at the very bottom of the international economic order ultimately deepens into a mediation on human labor itself. THESE HANDS will stimulate viewers to rethink documentary and to question their own role as consumers in a global economy. In THESE HANDS, the camera acts as a compassionate witness to a day in the life of Mozambican women refugees working in a quarry outside Dar es Salaam, the relentless toil, the tender childcare, the nostalgic songs and joyous dancing at day's end. We slowly come to recognize that these women are, in fact, parts of a giant machine, not just the quarry but the international economic system as a whole. The rocks, the women, the scarred landscape, are being constantly ground into the common currency of industrial civilization. As the film unspools, we, the viewers, look on powerless and complicit, realizing we too are enmeshed in this global mechanism of social, economic and ideological reproduction.