Raak mij aan! Touch me!

Understated, poetic portrait of a Burmese couple who drill oil from the ground by hand. They hope this grueling work will yield them enough money to give their children a better future.

Using their bare hands, married couple Htwe Tin and Thein Shwe draw oil from a pit they drilled themselves on the land next to their house. There are lots of these “artisanal” oilfields dotted around Myanmar, where people have swapped crop cultivation for selling the oil they pump from the ground by hand.

There are moments when filmmaker Saeed Taji Farouky allows himself a morsel of visual poetry, with almost impressionistic close-ups of the shimmering patterns in the syrupy brown oil, and a sound design that echoes the rumbling depths of the earth. More often, however, this is a stark and honest portrait of two people who want the best for their children. They are making their own way in life; son Zin Ko Aung dreams of a career as a professional football player.

The film offers a glimpse into an unusual way of life that combines grueling work and afternoon naps with visits to a fortune teller who predicts the couple’s future—mysticism is never far away in Myanmar, even in this oil-soaked setting.

Agenda

There are no new dates planned (yet) for A Thousand Fires.