Peru, Spain | 2022 | 95 min
Language : Spanish
Subtitles : English, French
Manuel Bauer offers us a fascinating journey across Peru aboard a freight train; an incredible descent from the Altiplano lead mines, at an altitude of 4,800 metres, to the shores of the Pacific Ocean. Set amidst staggering scenery, Steel Life alternates between a road movie peppered with encounters and the social x-ray of a country victim of the neo-colonial system.
Steel Life is a “railroad-movie” following the itinerary of the Central Andino, a mine train pulling an endless string of wagons, which descends from the Peruvian Altiplano at an altitude of 4,800 metres to the shores of the Pacific Ocean. The film witnesses the Andean landscapes transformed by “progress”, the open-pit mines that have destroyed entire towns. Leaving open spaces behind it, the train crosses canyons and gorges, impossible slopes and makeshift bridges, invading the roads as it approaches the capital, cutting shanty towns in half. With a politically committed perspective, the film denounces the fatalist paradox of a resource-rich country that is victim of a flagrant step back in terms of health and education. While all of Peru celebrates Independence Day, the festivities punctuated by populist speeches and street parades, its population fluctuates between scepticism and resignation as it talks about the systematic exploitation of its resources, seen disappearing aboard foreign cargo ships on the horizon.