“We are not pickers of garbage; we are pickers of recyclable materials,” Tião, an impoverished Brazilian catadore, or trash picker, declares to a talk-show host in Lucy Walker’s inspiring documentary “Waste Land.”
"One man's garbage is another man's art. That's the les son in Lucy Walker's fascinating documentary "Waste Land," a portrait of Vik Muniz, a successful Brazilian-born, Brooklyn-based artist."
"That a beautiful film could be set in the world's largest garbage dump sounds like an oxymoron, but acclaimed documentarian Lucy Walker has pulled off precisely that feat in her profoundly moving "Waste Land." She follows renowned Brooklyn-based, Brazilian-born artist Vik Muniz on a singularly ambitious project: going to Jardim Gramacho, a vast landfill established in 1970 north of Rio de Janeiro, photographing its catadores, pickers of recyclable materials, and then collaborating with them in transforming these photos into portraits created with recyclable materials. His purpose is to inspire his pickers to see themselves in a new way and even to re-imagine their lives"
""Waste Land" is a film about recycling, but it's far more intriguing than the average eco-documentary. The subject is Brazilian garbage pickers, called catadores, and how an artist created striking portraits of a half dozen of them and transformed their lives."
"Muniz has all the trappings of success in the fickle world of contemporary art, but he also has deep ties to Brazil where he was born, 48 years ago, on the working-class fringes of poverty. Tugged by those roots, in 2008 he set about using his art to change the lives of Brazil's most outcast citizens, the garbage pickers, or catadores, who sort and recycle the mountains of trash at Jardim Gramacho, a 321-acre dump outside Rio."Waste Land," directed by Lucy Walker, is a deeply touching documentary about his efforts and the people he encounters at the Jardim. "
"It's not a very good title, Waste Land - this isn't a bleak film, at all - but just about everything else in Lucy Walker's documentary works, and illuminates. Traveling with the Brooklyn-based, Brazilian-born artist Vik Muniz - an energetic figure whose large-scale photography and portraiture incorporates nontraditional materials (food, wire, metal) - Walker sets down with her small crew in Rio de Janeiro and watches as a truly transformative project takes shape."
"To explain more wouldn't dilute the movie's effect, but it articulates its ideas visually much more effectively than prosaic words can. And Walker and cinematographer Dudu Miranda work a minor miracle here by getting you to reconsider garbage as the movie unfolds. By no means is the Jardim Gramacho a beautiful place—Waste Land's scenes of the trucks dumping loads of trash into the landfill's ever-expanding ocean of debris have an almost visceral effect, as you begin to start imagining what the place has to smell like. Yet even in this alien landscape, Waste Land shows that beauty is never outside the reach of people who never stop believing in themselves."
“A joy to watch despite the abject poverty it contains, “WASTE LAND” transcends the artist-doc format and has a broad emotional appeal that should ensure a warm reaction from theatrical audiences. Easily as concerned with social and environmental issues as it is with the fine-art career that sets it in motion, the movie never focuses on big issues at the expense of the individuals it encounters.”
“Especially mesmerizing are the wordless sequences of the garbage pickers at work—Moby-scored montages that hauntingly convey the otherworldly feel of the place.”
“Beautifully captured, this portrait of a very proud and resourceful underclass rightly tugged the heartstrings of everyone who saw it.”
“With a stirring score by Moby, it’s a heart-warming tale of human dignity and innovation, and was a worthy winner of the World Cinema Documentary Audience Award.”
“A sprawling Rio landfill is the star in an unsettling but unforgettable documentary ‘WASTE LAND’.”
“an uplifting examination of how art came to impact the lives of scavengers at the world’s largest landfill in Rio de Janeiro”