Waste Land

Synopsis: An uplifting feature documentary highlighting the transformative power of art and the beauty of the human spirit. Top-selling contemporary artist Vik Muniz takes us on an emotional journey from Jardim Gramacho, the world's largest landfill on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, to the heights of international art stardom. Vik collaborates with the brilliant catadores, pickers of recyclable materials, true Shakespearean characters who live and work in the garbage quoting Machiavelli and showing us how to recycle ourselves.
Genre: Documentary
Director(s): Lucy Walker, Karen Harley (co-director), João Jardim (co-director)
Actors: Vik Muniz
Production: Arthouse Films
  Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 27 wins & 10 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
99 min

He is, without a doubt,

one of the greatest

contemporary artists alive today.

And he gives life to garbage.

He abuses strange materials.

And he has attracted huge crowds

to his exhibitions.

Vik Muniz, come on down!

When I said he's one of

the greatest artists alive,

I'm not exaggerating.

I really believe that,

and everyone agrees.

There is just no doubt about it.

Can you tell us how you came

to use materials from the garbage?

Once I was driving in Sao Paulo...

I see a fight.

I stop to break the fight apart.

When I am going

back to my car...

I got shot by one of the guys who

Thought was the guy fighting with him.

Sorry I have to do this.

Luckily he was very rich...

and he gave me some money.

And that's

why I bought the ticket...

to come to America in 1983...

and that's why

I am talking to you today.

Because I got shot in the leg.

Oh my God, this is so amazing!

I really feel weird.

This is very very strange.

I used to push these carts here.

Now, they have these things

for the carts.

In my time, they had no thing

which can return your cart.

One of my jobs was to clean up...

after the dumpster.

From the meat dumpsters.

I would spend the whole day...


the worst possible matter...

organic matter left by the truck.

Sugar Children was probably

the most important work...

of my career.

I think this is the first

time that I addressed...

the fact of material

as something that exists...

in the world

with its own importance.

These are children from

the Caribbean island, of St. Kitts.

They are sons and daughters

of plantation workers.

I would imagine the progression from

these beautiful amazing children...

to a grown,

that would be just as happy...

because it was paradise.

But their parents were very sad,

tired, weary people...

who worked 16 hour

shifts in the sugar fields.

I kept thinking about what

was missing in the transition...

from a childhood like that

to being very sad grownups.

And it was sugar.

The sweetness was taken

from those children.

When I came back to New York

I started drawing their faces with sugar...

I realized that I could make

volumes with that.

It was quite beautiful.

I shot these with a camera.

People from the New York Times...

wrote a review about it and later,

the Museum of Modern Art...

invited me to be part

of the new photography show.

So it changed my career entirely...

the work that I did

with these children.

Right now,

I am this point in my career...

that I am trying to step

a little bit away...

from the realm of fine art.

Because I think

that it is a very exclusive...

very restrictive place to be.

What I really want

to do is to be able to change...

the lives of a group of people...

with the dame materials

that they deal with every day.

And not just any material.

The idea I have

for my next series...

is to work with garbage.

When you talk

about transformation...

this being the stuff of art...

transforming material and ideas...

I don't know.

This is the beginning of an idea...

I just have the material.

And I have to go after an image.

Hey Fabio.

So did you have a chance

to look at that garbage thing?


check the link I just sent you.

On You Tube there is a video that was

shot at this place called Gramacho.

Gramacho Gardens

it's the biggest landfill in Rio.

They receive the trash

from all the Rio area.

What are the dangers

of working in a place like this?

First of all, the place

is surrounded by favelas...

owned by the drug traffic.

And I think the stability

of the people themselves...

they are all

excluded from society.

Some stay there overnight...

or the whole week.

It's gonna be hard.

So do you think it is too hard?

No, because it would be much harder

to think we are not able...

to change the life of these people.

And I think we are.

So I think it's worth a try.

My experience with mixing art...

with social projects...

is that is the main thing...

is taking people away even

if it is for two minutes...

away from where they are.

And showing them another world...

another place.

Even it's just a place from where

they can look at where they are...

You know it just

changes everything.

I want this to be

an experience of how art...

can change people...

but also...

Can it change people?

Can this be done?

And what would be

the effects of this?

This is where I am going to spend

the next two years of my life.

And your going to make

drawings out of the garbage?

And your going to employ

the people that live there?

And work there?

How is it going to be

the whole health issue...

if you work with them?

It is not exactly safe

to do what they do.

They don't question it,

because they feed from there.

Yeah, but we do.

It's hard to make those assumptions

from looking at Google Earth.

We have to go there

and see what they really need.

And you are going

to create everything?

I want also...

the iconography to develop

from my interaction with them.

See what is important to them.

What would they like

to make an image big?

What would they like to show?

Maybe it will end up

just being portraits.

But do you think people

they are open to work like this?

I have no idea.

These are the roughest...

people you can think of,

all drug addicts.

It's like the end of the line.

Check out the geography

of this thing.

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "Waste Land" Scripts.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 19 Jun 2024. <https://www.scripts.com/script/waste_land_23103>.

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