Title: Waste Land
Director: Lucy Walker
Summary: Brazilian artist Vik Muniz creates photographic images of people using found materials from the places where they live and work. His "Sugar Children" series portrays the images of deprived children of Caribbean plantation workers using the sugar from their surroundings. When acclaimed filmmaker Lucy Walker trains her camera on Muniz, he is cultivating a new idea for a project. He knows the material he wants to use—garbage—but who will be the subject of the new series of works? Waste Land is a wonderfully resonant documentary that chronicles Muniz's journey to Jardim Gramacho, the world’s largest landfill, located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. He collaborates with an eclectic band of catadores, or self-designated pickers of recyclable materials, and photographs these inspiring characters as they recycle their lives and society’s garbage. Walker gains fantastic access to the entire process and, in doing so, offers stirring evidence of the transformative power of art and the dignity that can be found in personal determination (Sundance).
Thoughts: Winner of the international documentary audience award at Sundance, Lucy Walker’s Waste Land does appear to be one of the most inspiring films of the year. There is something magical about turning garbage into treasure and giving the downtrodden the ability to take pride in who they are. Walker appears to have stumbled upon just such a story and when an audience at Sundance approves, you should take notice.