Waste Land

"Extraordinary"

Waste Land Review


This thoroughly involving documentary works on two levels: as a profile of an artist and as an exploration of human waste. And it's so cleverly assembled that it's entertaining and challenging at the same time.

Brazilian-born artist-photographer Vik Muniz lives and works in Brooklyn, creating artwork from unusual materials. Now he wants to do something that gives back to his subjects, so he travels to Rio de Janeiro to meet the "catadores" who collect recyclables in the world's largest dump, Jardim Gramacho. And as these people get involved in creating their own portraits out of materials they've gathered, everybody finds that their life is changing.

Filmmaker Walker and co-directors Joao Jardim and Karen Harley assemble a riveting narrative that connects with us on a variety of levels. We see the catadores telling their stories to Muniz, posing for photographs and then working as a team to transform reclaimed trash into magnificent mosaics. As their individual stories start tugging shamelessly on the heartstrings, we're moved by the honest reactions of these earthy, life-loving people.

And all of them have hilariously huge personalities. At the centre is the dynamic young leader Tiao, the pickers' union president. His journey is perhaps the most striking, as he travels to London for his portrait's auction. And Muniz gave him the US $50,000 it earned, plus another $200,000 from selling the other portraits.

To Muniz's surprise, the experience changed the catadores' lives more than the money did. And of course the project changes Muniz himself. This isn't just about the injustice of a class system that keeps people in poverty; it's about the power of the human spirit to survive and even thrive in challenging situations.

Walker assembles this with energy and style, following Muniz and the catadores through the entire process. She vividly captures the vast expanse of Jardim Gramacho from a deeply human perspective. And Moby's musical score adds a wonderful sense of life to the whole thing. And in the end we discover these things along with him, plus a realisation, along with Muniz, that the best way to help people is to give them dignity.



Waste Land

Facts and Figures

Genre: Documentaries

Run time: 99 mins

In Theaters: Friday 21st January 2011

Box Office USA: $0.2M

Distributed by: Arthouse Films

Production compaines: Epidemic

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Fresh: 68

IMDB: 7.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Lucy Walker

Producer: Angus Aynsley, Hank Levine

Starring: as Leo Woeste, as Kathleen, Babetida Sadjo as Aysha, Peter Van den Begin as Johnny Rimbaud, as Jean Perdieus, François Beukelaers as Jozef Woeste

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