On until this Saturday, Cinecenta is showing “Wasteland,” one the most inspiring documentaries of 2010. The film is set in Jardim Gramacho, a garbage dump on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. It documents a project by Vik Muniz, a Brooklyn artist, who travelled to Rio to work with the “catadores” (pickers of garbage).
Muniz had planned to paint the individuals who used the world’s biggest landfill as their scavenging ground. Instead, he photographed the catadores and worked alongside them to create portraits of themselves using the materials in the landfills. In his own words, Muniz wanted to “change the lives of a group of people, with the same material they deal with every day.”
The film documents this process, but it also captures the spirit of the catadores, who spend their days picking out the recyclables from the garbage of others. Many of these characters cannot see a life outside of the landfill. It is through the act of artistic creation that they begin to envision a world where their skills are valuable.
Directed by Lucy Walker, “Wasteland” won numerous prizes at Festivals around the globe. It was also nominated for Best Documentary at the Oscars, which were held last month.
Cinecenta is located on the UVic campus.