Waste Land

“Vibrant, colourful, majestically shot, the Sundance-award-winning documentary deserves the accolades it has reaped.” — Gayle MacDonald, The Globe and Mail
Director: Lucy Walker
Year: 2010
Country: UK
Running time: 98 mins
Censor Rating: M - Cert

UK/Brazil
Co-directors: João Jardim, Karen Harley
Producers: Angus Aynsley, Hank Levine
Photography: Dudu Miranda, Heloisa Passos, Aaron Phillips
Editor: Pedro Kos
Music: Moby
With: Vik Muniz, Fabio Ghivelder, Isis Rodrigues Garros, José Carlos da Silva Baia Lopes (Zumbi), Sebastião Carlos do Santos (Tiao), Valter dos Santos, Leide Laurentina da Sailva (Irmã), Magna de França Santos, Suelem Pereira Dias
In English and Portuguese, with English subtitles

Festivals: Sundance, Berlin 2010

Audience Award (World Cinema Documentary), Sundance Film Festival 2010

Vik Muniz is a Brazilian artist known internationally for composing portraits from such materials as sugar and chocolate syrup and, now, in this totally engaging, unpredictable film, trash. The Brooklyn-based photographer grew up poor and we meet him as he heads home to undertake a series based at Rio de Janeiro’s Jardim Gramacho, one of the world’s largest garbage dumps. His subjects are the catadores who pick through the trash to gather, sort and sell recyclables. The men and women we meet are an inspiring bunch of individuals: cheerful, thoughtful, energetic, and as deserving as any historical figure of the celebration (not to say outright lionisation) that a gigantic Muniz portrait confers on them. Muniz, whose art commands high sale prices, sells work in the series to benefit their Garbage Pickers Association. Brit documentarian Lucy Walker’s film is packed with so much evidence that there’s happiness and dignity at the bottom of the heap that it’s disconcerting. It’s joyful, salutary and troubling all at the same time. — BG

“Waste Land is a haunting reminder of the privileged people who carelessly consume and create waste, while the destitute are ultimately left to clean up the mess.” — Katherine Robbie, Salient magazine