5. Pozu Polio
Everyone in the area calls it Pozu (mine shaft) but its real name, Polio, is taken from the homonymous mountain in Mieres. Its twin headframes were a symbol of the highest mining activity of its time, a working space that brought in thousands of coal miners. Its structure, inspired by English and Central-European functionalism, was both a blessing and a curse for generations of workers. In 1959, a firedamp explosion caused the death of 6 components of the ‘great mining family’, thus inaugurating a dramatic period that would end with its shutdown, in 1991. Since then, a slow ‘euthanasia’ inflicted by the EU-planned reconversion process, has had terrible consequences. The only remains from its glorious times in the 80s, when it was still under the control of Hunosa (state-owned coal mining company), are memories retained on old color faded photos. The colliery, still imposing, observes the silent coalfield from the top of its headframes. The dust covering the structure’s big windows seems to have stopped the passage of time. Only the most nostalgic ones still manage to hear the tired miners’ footsteps resonating inside the empty building.
For a brief moment silence fills the house. Bea and Miguel have just left and Chris is outside, probably busy working on his fence. Her grandsons are playing in the dining room and Celia can finally enjoy the calmness, trying not to think of the recent worrying portents. Her face is like a map; many courses undertaken, filled with experiences only elderly people can really understand. The questions asked the last few days always referred to things that are drifting away or gone altogether; Working in the mine, that almost needs to be begged for or loved ones lost in the dark ends of the mine pits. It hurts trying to remember those moments that should have never arrived, when you visit the place where your son died and your body and mind want to shut down so you cannot feel, nor remember. She suddenly opens her eyes. The kids are still playing and Chris is back home. It’s time to mow the hay field; another day at work has just begun.
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Chris has spent all morning cutting wood; the poles now rest on the wall one next to the other, ready to be driven into the ground. When he talked to his family about his plans his father thought it was futile to build a fence to protect the land. Chris doesn’t mind the effort and time spent. He thinks that it’s a good idea and all the work implied makes him feel proud of himself. This is how he imagines his adult life. To be content after a hard day’s work, having found something that can replace the broken dream of working in the mines. While he drives the first pole into the ground, he tries to imagine how it would feel being inside the mine, the mix of smells and colours whilst the cage stops and all the miners walk out and begin to work. He could ask his parents about it, but now he concentrates on the last hammer hits. ‘The fence can’t wait any longer’ he thinks. Another day at work has just begun.
The morning sun gives rise to a stimulating game of shadows inside the stable. Miguel’s lid cigarette lights up in the darkness while he grooms his purebred horse. Its one of the daily tasks he mostly enjoys fulfilling. For a brief moment, all the problems of the last few months are forgotten and his imagination carries him away. All of a sudden, the Asturian mountains disappear, giving way to the valleys of Extremadura, where his new house lies. He knows that it’s just a dream, but before he opens his eyes, he lingers. As the threat of the mines being shut down slowly becomes a reality, he can’t help but think that moving with Bea to Cáceres to breed horses would have been a better option. Beyond the barn, rises the imposing figure of the abandoned Polio mining well. Its shutdown has transformed it into a cemetery of memories. Asturias now seems to be a place where silence can’t be endured. Daydreaming abruptly stops: Sounds of family life come from the house; lunch is ready, time to get going… Another day at work has just begun.
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We proudly announce that Black Future has been selected in Cross Video Days, 1st European Crossmedia Content Market.
A few months have passed since our last trip to Asturias. Unfortunately, the situation in the mining wells hasn’t changed much. Meanwhile, our project has begun to take shape together with its characters, fundamental voices in this web documentary. Today, the countdown begins to Black Future’s official website opening. Using literary cues, accompanied by both photos and videos, we’ll present its main characters.
The omelette is almost ready and Bea stares at the burning oil left in the pan. It’s almost 11 am, but her day began hours ago. The daily tasks have taken up most of the morning; caring for the horses and taking out the cattle for a stroll, together with her eldest son Chris. By this time, little of the dawn’s peaceful silence is still there. From the dining room one can hear the sounds of a life that goes on without rest. Just like every day, Bea’s mother will take care of the youngest son. The family’s routine goes on like clockwork with no room for failure. The aluminum foil covers the omelette, still hot and steaming. It’s food for the miners that have occupied one the region’s many mining wells. While preparing her bag, Bea thinks that 2018 is not as far as it seems. What will become of her, of her whole family? With little time left, she warmly hugs her children and rushes to the mine with her husband, Miguel. Another day at work has just begun.
The project is on track. The first part has finished; a long and emotional journey to the Asturian land, getting together with our collaborators and asturian families. Silvia & José, Bea & Miguel, Cris, Milagros, Mary, Luisa, Olga, Javier, Tito and their families have been expecting us. A friendly and endearing welcome.. A big thanks to all of you, we are grateful for everything. You have made us feel like home for 16 long days!
By this time, we have crossed Asturias searching for stories of miners’ families. We have gathered many testimonies and lived intense moments with each one of them. The image we bring back is one of a divided land, mostly due to its past and the uncertainty of the future. An image to which, the people’s character, adds volume and contrast.
However, the end of this phase gives birth to a new one. We bring back lots of emotions and experiences captured in photos, videos and sounds, that we will soon start viewing and listening to. We continue with the task, encouraged by the memories of this journey.
Pablo tells us about the first time he entered the mine. Milagros looks at him and when he finishes she says: ‘I was crying all day’.
20:30 – Just arrived to Sotrondio.. Silvia and José, a miners’ couple, have been expecting us.
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With one week left before the trip, we are going through the last details. Fourteen intense days around the mining wells, Canga de Narcea and Oviedo await us.