Synopsis by Mark Deming
Vik Muniz is an artist who literally creates treasure out of trash; using cast-offs he finds at garbage dumps, Muniz fashions re-creations of famous paintings, and he made an evocative series of images of children who work in sugar plantations using the leftovers from the refining process. So when filmmaker Lucy Walker asked Muniz if she could make a film about him as he worked on his next project, the two settled on what seemed like the perfect location -- Jardim Gramacho, a Brazilian landfill not far from Rio de Janeiro that's said to be the largest refuse dump in the world. Walker's documentary Waste Land explores Muniz's creative process as he fashions new works from what others have left behind, but it also profiles the people who live near Jardim Gramacho and make their living by sorting what's useful from what is not. Walker lends a dignity to these so-called "trash pickers" as they reveal how much of value can be found in other people's refuse and how they maintain their pride and self-respect despite their sometimes meager circumstances. Waste Land was an official selection at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.
artist, garbage-heap, landfill, poverty, scavenger, Third-World