WASTE LAND

Waste Land
Comments

WASTE LAND



18 Monday 18th October 2010

Viewed from afar it looks like hell. The biggest landfill site on earth, JardimGramacho, is where 70% of Rio de Janeiro’s rubbish ends up. Look closer and you find it is also the workplace of roughly 1300catadores (‘pluckers’), people who survive by selling recyclable materials that they salvagefrom the waste.

 JardimGamacho provides the setting for Waste Land, the third feature from British documentary maker Lucy Walker. The film follows seven catadores whose lives are temporarily transformed through their involvement with Vik Muniz, an internationally acclaimed New York based artist originally from a working class district of Sao Paolo. Motivated by a fascination for the transformative potential of art and a desire to give something back, Muniz embarks on a collaborative art project cum social experiment. He will work with the catadores to create portraits and sell them at auction to raise money for them. Where previously we just saw a pile of rubbish,bit by bit we discover a community of people struggling to make a living and doing so with dignity and pride.
 
 
While Walker highlights the remarkable resilience of her subjects with humour and empathy, she alsopresentsthe grimmer aspects of their lives. Zumbi recounts the time he had an accident and 20 fellow catadores donated blood. Tiao tells us how reading a copy of Machiavelli’s The Prince that someone had thrown away inspired him in setting up the ACAMJG (the Association for the Pickers of Jardim Gramacho), the workers collective of which he is the president. Suelem shows us around her rat-infested accommodation. Isis sobs and tells how she begged Muniz’s team not to send her back to her old life.
 
Though emotionally charged and beautifully shot, Waste Landis at times is too heartwarming. It’s a perverse world in which some people pay $1 million for an artwork while others scrape a living by delving around in a rubbish tip. The film does itself a disservice by not addressing the broader economic and political context of this. Walker has said that she hopes Waste Landwill allow us “to zoom all the way in to caring about someone who was previously as far away as it’s possible to be.” To this end she certainly succeeds butby zoomingin too far we risk losing perspective.
 
Waste Land is currently showing at the BFI London Film Festival. It will be released in March 2011.

 

Don't Panic attempt to credit photographers and content owners wherever possible, however due to the sheer size and nature of the internet this is sometimes impractical or impossible. If you see any images on our site which you believe belong to yourself or another and we have incorrectly used it please let us know at panic@dontpaniconline.com and we will respond asap.



Comments

MORE FROM DON'T PANIC