|Crew: ||Producers: Michael Dominic - Screenwriters: Michael Dominic - Cinematographer: Michael Dominic - Editor: Alexandra Kristine Smith - Composer: Zoe Keating
Shot over the course of seven years (2011-2018) in Nicaragua, Clean Hands is a feature-length fly-on-the-wall cinema verite which tells the remarkable, riveting story of the Lopez family surviving against the backdrop of Central America’s largest garbage dump, La Chureca and beyond. It is about family, extreme poverty, the hope and innocence of children, rescue and salvation, and the challenges we all face. This is a slice of life that is rarely seen.
It is desperate, and quite dangerous.
The four Lopez children are ages 6 to 10 when we first meet them. They have never been to school. They cannot read or write. They are kids, prone to mischief and silliness. They rely on each other as siblings, playmates, companions, and friends. Unlike their parents, they don’t fully grasp what they don’t have. La Chureca is the only life, and only world, they’ve ever known.
Blanca (the children’s mother), is often controlled by her rage. Her partner Javier and the children often bear the brunt of her anger.
They dream of a better life.
Through fortuitous circumstance, an American philanthropist hears of the plight of the family. She is moved and comes to their aid. She builds them a small house in the country that sits on land they can farm. The kids can attend school for the first time, and the family can escape the desolation and dead-end life of La Chureca.
The children take to their new lives and are excited to attend school. But, even after getting what they want, all is not well in the camp. As the family adjusts to the opportunity, new home, and farm–life, as it often does for all of us–becomes complicated. Blanca in particular must face her demons from her troubled past. She misses her city life in Managua and abandons her family for long periods of time, leaving Javier alone to care for the children in the country, making their promising new future uncertain.
Clean Hands is a powerful story of real human drama. There is struggle, togetherness, liberation, and challenge.
Michael Dominic is an multi award winning documentary filmmaker and photographer from New York City. In the last decade he dedicated his life to making work that has a social conscience. His objective for his work is truth, to show what lies beneath the surface or out of sight.
Before Clean Hands, he made several other films, most notably the feature length documentary, Sunshine Hotel and the narrative short Tulips for Daisy. Sunshine Hotel won three Best Documentary awards and was nominated for another dozen or so. After Sunshine Hotel’s run of almost thirty film festivals it ran on national US television for two years on Sundance Chanel. Tulips for Daisy was also nominated for several awards including a nomination from the Akira Kurosawa Memorial Short Film Competition.
He currently lives in Jackson Heights, Queens New York with his wife Ting.