Waste Land

2010, Documentary, 1h 38m

71 Reviews 5,000+ Ratings

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critics consensus

Waste Land begins with an eco-friendly premise, but quickly transforms into an uplifting portrait of the power of art and the dignity of the human spirit. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

Located just outside Rio de Janeiro, Jardim Gramacho, Brazil, is the world's largest garbage landfill. Modern artist Vik Muniz works with the so-called catadores, the men and women who pick through the refuse, to create art out of recycled materials. Muniz selects six of the garbage pickers to pose as subjects in a series of photographs mimicking famous paintings. In his desire to assist the catadores and change their lives, Muniz finds himself changed as well.

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Critic Reviews for Waste Land

Audience Reviews for Waste Land

  • Mar 13, 2012
    As related in the documentary "Waste Land," the best thing that ever happened to artist Vic Muniz was being shot when he was younger. The pay off allowed him to go to America where he could pursue his dreams of being an artist and has succeeded by using found materials. Now, he wants to apply the same approach in returning to his home country of Brazil to create art around the giant garbage dumps in and around Rio de Janeiro, not without a little danger from the nearby favelas. At this point, it is not explained why his wife does not handcuff him to the radiator to prevent him from going. But what he does find in Jardim Gramacho is a great deal of community and camaraderie amongst the thousands of recyclers, which the women prefer to the alternative of drugs and prostitution. This inspires him to give back to the workers by making portraits(my favorite being the Marat pose), while also giving them the proceeds from the sale. "Waste Land" is insightful in giving us a close-up of a rarely seen part of Brazil, and at the same time through the art and publicity exposing it to the wealthy citizens of the country. On a general note, it reminds us of how much we throw out on a daily basis and what can be recycled while also on a metaphorical note that no human being is ever disposable. However, I think the documentary errs by bending over backwards in trying to give a positive spin to the workers' lives, despite the dangers and hard and dirty work involved. And Muniz, whose own story takes a back seat, is to be commended for what he does, even as it is only a drop in a very large ocean.
    Walter M Super Reviewer
  • Jul 26, 2011
    <i> What happens in the world's largest trash city will transform you. </i> <b>Magnificent</b> A touching documentary that truely depicts a great artist and humanitarian. I loved the movie from start to end and it <b>moved</b> me deeply. Overall I highly recommend everyone to watch this movie, its amazing, and beautiful! Watch it! <u>Zumbi:</u> <i>"We have to think about the future because I don't want my son to be a picker. Although if he is, I'd be very proud... But I'd rather he be a lawyer to represent the pickers, you know."</i>
    Pedro H Super Reviewer
  • May 26, 2011
    Enthralling documentary about some recycling workers on the worlds largest landfill and a Brazillian photographer who decides to make art with them and of them. Their jobs are smelly and undervalued, and most live in the onsite shanty town but as one single mother says " It's better than being out there, like a lot of people, prostituting yourself." For the latest update, see http://www.wastelandmovie.com/catadores.html <img src="http://www.hellocoolworld.com/media/HelloCoolWorld/wasteland1.jpg">
    Lesley N Super Reviewer
  • Apr 10, 2011
    A profoundly moving documentary that delves into the creative process of an artist and shows how Art can truly change people, and the most fascinating is to see the deep and unexpected relationship that grows between the artist and the people who are the subject of his creation.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer

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