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Waste Land


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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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

Amazon.com

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

Product Details

  • Actors: Vik Muniz
  • Directors: Lucy Walker
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Arthouse Films
  • DVD Release Date: March 15, 2011
  • Run Time: 93 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (114 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004CJQVQC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #30,098 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
I detest review hyperbole--people who gush and fawn over every film they see. It's not my style, and yet "Waste Land" might yet make a liar out of me. Lucy Walker's documentary about turning refuse into art held only a marginal interest for me initially, but I figured it would be like educational medicine. I was, however, instantly engaged in the most unexpected ways. Is the film about art, about class struggle, about recycling, about the human spirit? Yes to all. This multi-layered documentary is one of the most moving and entertaining films I've seen in quite some time. Trust me, its impact took me completely by surprise. I laughed and I cried as "Waste Land" is infused with both sadness and hope in equal proportion. Really a testament to perseverance, survival, and allowing yourself to dream--this heartfelt examination stands as one of my two favorite documentaries of 2010 and gets my highest recommendation.

Contemporary artist Vik Muniz is the featured lead in the film. Expanding his portfolio of intriguing art made from non-conventional material, Muniz embarks on a massive project in his native country Brazil. Going to Rio de Janeiro's largest garbage dump, he wants to utilize the natural resources there to make portraits of individual workers. A huge collaborative undertaking (the film spans almost three years), he gets the cooperation of the local union and enlists a select team of assistants for the project. He oversees the art, but the locals are its stars as well as the ones who assemble the actual final product. In doing so, they start to envision a world outside the daily confines of the dump. Walker begins with Muniz as the centerpiece for the story, but the movie evolves into a real character piece about those locals enlisted in the project.
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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Ted on April 4, 2011
Format: DVD
I'll be honest - my expectations going into this movie were not very high - a conceptual artist that I've never heard of is going to preach to me about how we're consuming too much and generating too much trash? No thanks.

My preconceptions couldn't have been more wrong. Vik (the artist) grew up in the lower classes of Brazil so he has a clear connection to the "pickers" and their circumstances. The characters are real people who are well developed - you understand how they ended up at the landfill and what they think about their work, their place in life and society.

You will not look at your job on Monday the same way after seeing this film. You will not blindly reach for the garbage can again either. This is such a powerful story with universal themes - I don't know why the movie hasn't gotten more attention. One thought on this: I watched the trailer after I saw the movie and it just doesn't make me want to see the movie.

Best line of the movie: "99 is not 100". Excellent film, highly recommended.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Lucero on March 5, 2011
Format: Amazon Instant Video
I saw this film in a festival in 2010. I was blown away. There is a lot of information about the lives of the people who participate in the project and the documentary is positive and inspiring.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By R S Cobblestone VINE VOICE on June 1, 2011
Format: DVD
There's a world of difference between the glitz and glamor of the New York City art scene, and the stink and grossness of sorting recyclables from the used diapers, rotting food waste, and broken glass of the world's largest landfill.

Brazilian-born artist Vik Muniz has now walked in both worlds. Extremely successful for his edgy and contemporary photographs of people and places, Muniz decided to return to Brazil to capture the "flavor" of Jardim Gramacho, the recipient of 70% of the garbage from the area surrounding Rio de Janeiro. Hundreds and hundreds of people make a living at this landfill by wading through the freshly delivered garbage to extract anything salvageable or salable. The recyclables are sold. The wearable is worn. The readable is read. The dead bodies are reported.

Ironically, Muniz brings out the beauty in this place, particularly with the catadores who scavenge and sort here. He can't, however, capture the smell, which must be horrific. Muniz and the workers soon suffer olfactory fatigue, although "suffer" in this case is probably a good thing.

These catadores are nameless until Muniz brings us their stories. They are parents, and dreamers, and philosophers, and activists. They sort, and cook, and discover. They are proud of what they contribute, yet they hope their children graduate to better things.

Muniz builds confidence with these workers, and highlights a limited number of them as subjects for an exhibition... people of the garbage. He develops these huge murals of their portraits using materials collected from the landfill as his media. It's beautiful and the people are lovely. But you begin to get uncomfortable. The selected catadores really seem to enjoy their moment in the lights, but what happens when Muniz and his team leave? What is the legacy here?

Watch Waste Land to find out. Highly recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 26, 2011
Format: Amazon Instant Video
I watched this documentary last month in my English class, and the documentary is simply wonderful. I was expecting to feel sad while watching Waste Land, but at the end of the video, I felt uplifted instead. It doesn't put the Jardim Gramacho workers into a negative light; I feel like it focuses more on their goals and the things that they want to improve upon in their lives and their community. This is not one of those documentaries that exposes the bad things in life that everyone knows about but no one wants to acknowledge; it shows how the Jardim Gramacho workers are leaders in recycling in Rio de Janeiro. They may be the "outcasts" in their society, but these so-called outcasts helped create the recycling system in Rio de Janeiro. I think it's great that Vik Muniz helped all these people out and allowed them to create art pieces by using "garbage".
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