'Clean Hands' -- a film about family life and Central America

The rabble podcast network offers an alternative take on politics, entertainment, society, stories, community and life in general. All opinions belong to the podcaster; however, podcasters are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new podcasters -- contact us for details.

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca in its summer fundraiser today for as little as $1 per month!

Clean Hands, Family Life and Central America

We all face challenges of one kind or another in our lives. Struggling with our family dynamics, growing together through wins and losses of various kinds, is a story that many of us can relate to and will resonate on various levels.

Shot over the course of seven years in Nicaragua, Clean Hands is a feature-length fly-on-the-wall cinéma vérité 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's about family, extreme poverty, the hope and innocence of children, rescue and salvation, and the challenges they face.

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.

On March 17th 2019 Clean Hands won the Best Documentary Feature jury award at the Cinequest Film Festival by a unanimous decision. The jury stated "Clean Hands represents passionate filmmaking; Intimate and powerful, it is a timely film that speaks to what is happening in central America and takes you places you don’t expect." Clean Hands is a powerful story of real human drama. There is struggle, togetherness, liberation, and challenge.

In this podcast, Michael Dominic and Face2Face host David Peck talk about the ethics of cinéma vérité filmmaking, different versions of truth, poverty and white western development, empathy, curiosity and why the little things matter.


About the Director: Michael Dominic is a 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 Channel. Tulips for Daisy was also nominated for several awards including a nomination from the Akira Kurosawa Memorial Short Film Competition. 

His tenure as a photojournalist took him around the globe. His work has appeared in dozens of outlets including The Sunday Telegraph, The Tribune De Geneve, France-Amérique, The New York Daily News, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Post, Playboy, Redbook, Le Figaro, Le Parisien, Bilan, Chåtelaine, L’actualité, ABCNews.com, CBSnews.com, MSN.com, Jet, Fashion TV, Sundance Channel, MTV, VIVA, as well as others.

He studied film at The School of Visual arts in New York City from 1990 to 1994. At the same time he worked for Annie Leibovitz as an intern and photo assistant. He currently lives in Jackson Heights, Queens New York with his wife Ting.

Image Copyright: Michael Dominic and Broadway Bill Productions. Used with permission.

F2F Music and Image Copyright: David Peck and Face2Face. 

For more information about David Peck’s podcasting, writing and public speaking please visit his site here.

With thanks to Josh Snethlage and Mixed Media Sound.



Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.