On the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro is Jardim Gramacho, the world's largest landfill, where men and women sift through garbage for a living. Artist Vik Muniz produces portraits of the workers... Read allOn the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro is Jardim Gramacho, the world's largest landfill, where men and women sift through garbage for a living. Artist Vik Muniz produces portraits of the workers and learns about their lives.On the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro is Jardim Gramacho, the world's largest landfill, where men and women sift through garbage for a living. Artist Vik Muniz produces portraits of the workers and learns about their lives.
A simply wonderful documentary
An moving documentary highlighting the transformative power of art, and the beauty of the human spirit. Top-selling contemporary artist Vik Muniz rooted in New York decides to give back to a community where he was born and raised. He travels to Jardim Gramacho, the largest landfill in the world on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. With the intention to help the pickers to improve their lives using his art, what starts as an introduction to the devastating poverty and lack of infrastructure in the slums of Rio de Janeiro, begins to transform into a story of unrelenting spirit, strength, and inspiration. Perhaps director Lucy Walker initially intended to make the film about Muniz. If so, her subject led her to a better one; as he returns to Rio to photograph pickers for a series of portraits, she begins to focus on their lives. We see where they live, we meet their families, we hear their stories, we learn of the society and economy they have constructed around Jardim Gramacho, the "Garbage Garden." Zumbi, a member of the association, who began a library from his home from books that had been discarded, Irma, a cook who makes stews and roasts from edible meat to feed the workers, Suelem, an 18-year old girl who has been working in the garbage dump since she was only seven years old, and Valter, an elderly man who entertains with stories and songs and who decides to participate because he believes that "it will raise awareness of all us pickers." Once the initial photographs are made, Muniz projects an enlarged version of each photo onto the floor of his studio and hires the pickers to add refuse from the landfill onto the canvas, photographing the result from overhead. This then becomes the finished art work, ready to be exhibited at auctions and museums around the world-- with the pickers traveling to such cities as London and New York, the first time they have ever left Gramacho. (Heavily debated decision and the possible ramifications.) Life is unpredictable that way. "Waste Land" is a testament that things can go from good to bad in an instant. But they can also improve just as quickly. A social documentary based around a self reliant community of people disregarded and largely ignored, who find unrealized beauty in their everyday work, modern art, and in themselves. I can never again put out my recycling bin without giving thought to how much more this film communicates than just that.
- Feb 3, 2013
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