News Americas, BRASILIA, Brazil, Thurs. Feb. 24, 2011: A Brazilian documentary film that focused on the mountains of garbage in one of the world’s largest landfills, is up for an Academy Award in the best feature category.
“Waste Land,” by Brazilian artist Vik Muniz, focuses on the workers of the Jardim Gramacho Municipal Landfill. Muniz used the trash they sort to create portraits of the pickers at the landfill, which operates 24 hours, seven days a week, taking in more than 9,000 tons of garbage daily from Rio de Janeiro and four other cities.
Filmed over nearly three years, WASTE LAND follows Muniz as he journeys from his home base in Brooklyn to his native Brazil and the world’s largest garbage dump, located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. There he photographs an eclectic band of “catadores” – self-designated pickers of recyclable materials.
Muniz’s initial objective was to “paint” the catadores with garbage. However, his collaboration with these inspiring characters as they recreate photographic images of themselves out of garbage reveals both the dignity and despair of the catadores as they begin to re-imagine their lives.
Director Lucy Walker (Devil’s Playground, Blindsight And Countdown To Zero) and co-directors João Jardim and Karen Harley have great access to the entire process and, in the end, offer stirring evidence of the transformative power of art and the alchemy of the human spirit.
The documentary has already won the Sundance Film Festival Audience Award for Best World Cinema Documentary and nearly two dozen other film festival awards and has helped raise $300,000 to help the recyclers who will be replaced since by December, Gramacho will be closed and transformed into a biogas facility.