This film by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Nigel Noble documents the workaday lives of Brazilian peasants who cut down trees in the Amazon rain forest and burn the wood in earthen kilns to make charcoal, an essential ingredient for the manufacture of pig iron in the U.S. These "charcoal people," including children as young as five, live and work in appalling conditions in a toxic environment with no sanitation or potable drinking water. The film graphically details the primitive process of making charcoal, by burning wood in clay ovens, which has not changed since the early nineteenth century. The workers are systematically subjugated by debt, since they are charged more for their food than they receive in wages. The laborers and their families discuss the backbreaking and dangerous work, which involves the despoliation of their natural surroundings, and we witness the toll it takes on their own health and the global environment.
"Beautifully photographed, sensitively constructed...Noble has crafted an activist film...that paints a levelheaded portrait of contemporary slavery."