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Garbage Dreams (2009)

1:30 | Trailer
A look at the lives of Egyptian trash collectors.



12 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »


GARBAGE DREAMS follows three teenage boys born into the trash trade and growing up in the world's largest garbage village. It is the home to 60,000 Zaballeen, Egypt's 'garbage people.' When their community is suddenly faced with the globalization of their trade, each boy is forced to make choices that will impact his life and the future of his community. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Raised in the Trash Trade





Official Sites:




Release Date:

31 July 2009 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

We Are the Zaballeen  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$200,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(2011) (TV)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


Ya Leil
Written and Performed by Wama
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User Reviews

An Inspiring film on the Impact of Globalization on Cairo's Trash Collectors
20 March 2009 | by (Austin, TX, United States) – See all my reviews

Garbage Dreams had its World Premiere at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, TX, where it was very well received. This is a remarkable documentary that brings to light the manner in which an entire class of people – known as the Zabbaleen - has been virtually enslaved in the dangerous trash trade of Cairo for generations. Without a municipal system of garbage collection Cairo has relied on this class of people – mostly Coptic Christians – to collect and recycle the massive amounts of trash produced by one of the world's largest cities.

Now, in an ironic twist, they are being discarded as the city hires foreign companies to come in and take over their function. The film presents a tragic examination of their predicament as they fight to defend their meager way of life. The film presents their world through the eyes of three young teenagers who have been born into this life and know little else. The filming is beautiful done and the colors of Cairo reflecting in the sun of bring out the remarkable beauty in the piles of garbage that the Zabbaleen sort through each and every day almost always ignored and unnoticed by the larger society which barely acknowledges their existence and their humanity. Their commitment to recycling is profound and the manner in which global capitalism is destroying their traditional way of life is stark and disturbing. The film makers have brought the primary conflict of our age – between modernity and tradition – to the screen in a powerful and compelling manner.

I hope that this film is widely viewed, because it is an important film for better explaining the struggles of developing countries to an American population that remains widely ignorant about such concerns. We will only begin to understand and deal with the Arab world when we come to see Arabs as human beings and not stereotypes. The story of the Zabbaleen is a powerful means for allowing all of us to participate in their shared human odyssey. Their responses to their difficult lives that are now being made even more difficult are profoundly inspiring.

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