Film review: Waste Land

Jessica Duncan, Contributor Ω

waste-land_posterOn the night of Wednesday, Feb. 6, TRU Residence & Conference Centre screened the documentary Waste Land (2010) as part of International Days. Lucy Walker, a British documentary filmmaker, directed this film.

In Waste Land, Vik Muniz, a well-known New York artist, travels to Brazil to work among the people of Jardim Gramacho, one of the world’s largest landfills. The facility is 1.3 million square meters (about 247 football fields), employs 3,000 people while housing 30,000 people on and around it. The workers of Jardim are a close-knit community. Many have been there for 20-plus years.

Over a two-year span, Muniz, born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, works closely with the garbage-picking community to create large-scale portraits using materials from the landfill. Muniz started this project as a way of paying homage to his homeland. The finished results are astounding, with a few original prints auctioned off in London, while the rest are exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art in São Paulo. All proceeds from the art went directly back to the workers of Jardim Gramacho.

Waste Land has been featured at film festivals across the globe. At the 2010 Sundance Film Festival it was awarded the World Cinema Audience Award for Best International Documentary. In 2011, it received an Academy Award nomination for Best Feature Documentary. Waste Land will mesmerize audiences with its honesty while they fall in love with the hard working people of Jardim Gramacho.