This freight train transports more than 1,100 tons of metal on its 300 kilometer journey. In Steel Life we hitch a ride, peacefully traveling from the highlands of Cerro de Pasco to Lima, on the coast. The journey takes us through gorgeous landscapes where we also get to know the disillusioned inhabitants of Peru a little better.
Peruvian director Manuel Bauer makes his feature-length documentary debut with this understated portrait, visiting small towns along the route. One local resident is worried about lead poisoning among children, while another has seen everyone moving away from the village where he was born—“Now I’m a stranger in my hometown,” says Manuel.
The sense of gloom is reinforced by shots of dilapidated neighborhoods, and lonesome figures in a discotheque. Still, the scenes when the train sets off again are breathtakingly beautiful, the high point being a single shot lasting several minutes in which we emerge from a dark tunnel to roll slowly into the snowy mountains.