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Waste Land is the uplifting story of artist Vik Muniz who travels to the world’s largest landfill, Jardim Gramacho outside Rio de Janeiro, to collaborate with a lively group of catadores, or pickers of recyclable materials, who find a way to the most prestigious auction house in London via the surprising transformation of refuse into contemporary art. The catadores work in a co-operative founded and led by Sebastião Carlos Dos Santos, the ACAMJG, or Association of Pickers of Jardim Gramacho, who dreamed of improving life for his community. The money created by the selling of the artworks was given back to the catadores and the ACAMJG, as well as the prize money from the film awards, in order to help the catadores and their community.
An awesome documentary showing that one mans garbage can truly be another mans fortune. Waste Land is a documentary about Vik Muniz going to Jardim Gramacho (the world’s largest landfill) and helping out the ACAMAJ (Association of Pickers of Jardim Gramacho) with founder Sebstiao by making art with the recyclable materials and then selling them around the world for support.
Along the way, Vik Muniz meets a wonderful cast of characters who work in the landfill and we get to learn more about their lives and their wishes for the future. My favorite person from ACAMAJ probably has to be Irma (aka “sister” in English) who does a lot for all of the workers such as making sure that they are all fed, and she has a good heart and charismatic attitude to match. During the journey in Gramacho, Muniz also talks about his poor upbringing and how he managed to get out.
The film is shot beautfully, giving a literally dirty place like a landfill a hopeful vibrance. The “cast” aka the workers were all unique and had their own aspirations which was good to see. Also a cool thing about this film is that they showed how the large pieces of artwork were actually made which was unique and cool to see behind the camera. Overall, this documentary is probably one of the best docs i’ve seen in a long time, it totally deserves all of the praise it got in the film festival and indie film world.