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Filmed over nearly three years, WASTE LAND follows renowned artist Vik Muniz as he journeys from his home base in Brooklyn to his native Brazil and the world's largest garbage dump, Jardim Gramacho, located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. There he photographs an eclectic band of "catadores" -- or self-designated pickers of recyclable materials. Muniz's initial objective was to "paint" the catadores with garbage. However, his collaboration with these inspiring characters as they recreate photographic images of themselves out of garbage reveals both the dignity and despair of the catadores as they begin to re-imagine their lives. Walker Devil s Playground, Blindsight, Countdown to Zero has great access to the entire process and, in the end, offers stirring evidence of the transformative power of art and the alchemy of the human spirit.
Bonus Features: Extended Bonus Footage: Beyond Gramacho ; An Untold Story
Brazilian artist Vik Muniz combines visual beauty with social awareness. Waste Land--a documentary about Muniz collaborating with the trash pickers in a staggeringly huge landfill--achieves the same fusion. Muniz, a remarkably upbeat and earnest fellow, is almost just an excuse for the movie to investigate the lives of the trash pickers, who are amazing people living on the fringes of a highly polarized society. The documentarians capture startlingly open and complex interviews with a handful of men and women striving to maintain some hope and personal dignity in some of the worst circumstances imaginable. Their vibrance and vitality will make you want to live your own life more fully. The tricky ethical issues around the entire project get a substantial discussion; Muniz is aware of the potential for exploitation and capsizing these delicately balanced lives, but proceeds with fervor. The glimpses into his artistic process and his ability to genuinely collaborate with his subjects provide a striking mirror to the collective effort of the trash pickers as they fight to form a political association to better their existence. Waste Land will truly make you examine your own life and may well inspire you to live better. --Bret Fetzer