Waste Land is a movie about Vik Muniz, an artist who wanted to make a difference. He had grown up poor in Brazil and now that he was successful, he wanted to give back. So, he went to Jardim Gramacho, previously the worlds largest garbage dump in Brazil, and worked with the catadores, who are people who combed through the dump to find the recyclables, to create portraits out of the materials they collect. Then he sold the pictures and donated the funds to their cause.
This movie was nominated for over 50 awards including the 2010 Sundance film festival audience award for best world cinema documentary and the 2011 Academy award for best documentary feature. It’s not surprising, as it is an interesting film to watch and the catadores stories and charisma is compelling. Although working in the dump is hard, dirty and full of stigma, there is a huge sense of pride among the workers, as well as a quiet dignity that underscores how we are not defined by our jobs but by our dreams, our strengths, and our ability to persevere.
The work that Vik does is pretty amazing, but the great thing is that he doesn’t do it alone. Not only do the catedores who are featured collect the materials for the project, they also work with him to position items on a huge canvas so that they are an integral part in creating their own portraits. It’s really quite cool to see.
So, sound like it’s worth a watch? Try it out in the trailer below: