Monday, November 08, 2010


WASTE LAND is a great documentary about the Brazilian artist Vic Muniz's project to make works of art of out materials taken from the world's largest landfill near Rio.

There are several layers of interest to this film. The first is his artistic method, which was to photograph the people who work at the dump, then recreate those images in very large form using garbage, then photographing the large works and selling the photos to provide charity relief to the workers at the landfill.

The next layer includes the stories of the workers themselves, who all seem surprisingly happy to be working at a dump, picking out recyclables all day long. There are some real interesting characters here. Some of them are very intelligent, and their self-education came literally from reading books that they find in the trash. ( I never expected trash men to be quoting Nietzsche, Machiavelli, or Sun Tzu.)

Finally there is the bizarre effect that the making of the artworks and the film have upon the workers. I'm not going to say any more here, because this film really needs to be seen. The biggest problem with the film is that it takes too long to get to the interesting characters; they spend more time than is necessary setting it up with the artist. But stick around until the end, it is very interesting.
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