Garbage Dreams

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Reviews Counted: 9

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User Ratings: 107


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Reviews Count: 0
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Average Rating: 3.7/5

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Movie Info

Cairo is one of the largest cities in Egypt, but for decades there was no formal garbage collection system in most of the city; instead, many neighborhoods were kept clean by zaballeen, or "garbage people." The zaballeen would pick up trash from the streets, sometimes being paid a few pennies for their efforts, but most would support themselves by selling cans, bottles, and other materials they found to recycling firms. This makeshift system proved to be surprisingly effective and efficient, but when Cairo's local government entered into a contract with an international sanitation firm to collect the city's trash, some 60,000 zaballeen suddenly found themselves without a livelihood. Filmmaker Mai Iskander examines the culture of Cairo's "garbage people" through the lives of three young men who collect and recycle trash in the documentary Garbage Dreams. Iskander spent four years following and filming quick-witted 16-year-old Osama, class-conscious 18-year-old Nabil, and bright 17-year-old Adham as they struggle to make a living and a future in a profession whose days are numbered. Garbage Dreams received its world premiere at the 2009 South by Southwest Film Festival.


Critic Reviews for Garbage Dreams

All Critics (9) | Top Critics (6)

  • Who knew that people could love their garbage so much that they grow angry when it is taken from them?

    Jan 8, 2010 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • The film isn't easy to watch, but its portrait of perseverance and ecological commitment is enlightening.

    Jan 8, 2010 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • Expertly weaving personal fears, family tensions and political action (the zabbaleen donâ(TM)t whine; they strive to modernize), Garbage Dreams records the tremblings of a culture at a crossroads.

    Jan 8, 2010 | Rating: 4/5
  • The film's most amazing character is the fantastic garbage town of Mokattam itself, with its winding alleyways piled high with trash, its buildings half exposed, riddled with crevices stuffed with bags of refuse.

    Jan 7, 2010 | Full Review…

    Ronnie Scheib

    Top Critic
  • Timely documentary sheds new light on the age-old practice of recycling.

    Jan 7, 2010
  • In Garbage Dreams, Mai Iskander's handsomely shot and intermittently fascinating look at Cairo's Zaballeen community of trash collectors, the filmmaker documents an entire population faced with extinction.

    Jan 5, 2010 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Garbage Dreams

Absolutely fascinating story on how a "recycling" system came about in Cairo out of poverty. Essentially the poor recycled so that they could get a few pennies to make it through their daily lives. Incredible.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

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