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Waste Land – documentary about Brazilian garbage sorters

January 26, 2012

If you are fascinated by garbage, you must watch this movie.  Wasteland is a documentary about Brazilian artist Vik Muniz and his three-year project at the largest garbage dump in the world (Jardim Gramacho in Rio de Janeiro).  Just knowing that a place like Jardim Gramacho exists and how it works is interesting enough.  But this film delves deep into the lives of the workers and Muniz’ involvement with them.  It documents Muniz as he finds workers at the dump to be models for and help set up a series of gigantic images, portraits of the workers constructed out of the trash that they haul every day.

The images are engrossing.  The story is moving and complicated.  What is it like to work at a dump?  What happens when people who think they are stuck in a life “at the bottom” see a possible way out?  When Muniz uses the garbage haulers as his assistants on the images, is he giving them false hope?  Is it the little push they need?  Or will they become more desperate if the opportunity doesn’t last once he’s gone?

Lots to think about.  And…it’s available on Netflix (if you still subscribe!).   Enjoy

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