Art transforms life in this Academy Award-nominated documentary set among a diverse group of garbage pickers, or catadores, in the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. On a journey back to his native Brazil, visual artist Vik Muniz wants to photograph the catadores, who make their living by digging recyclables out of the world’s largest landfill. Muniz then sets about recreating those portraits on a massive scale by using their salvaged materials. The end goal is to auction off the pieces, with all proceeds going back to the garbage pickers.
Instead of an ego-tripping travelogue, Waste Land is about an ambitious plan to merge art with social responsibility. Ultimately, though, this act of charity takes a backseat to a ground-level film about six of the garbage pickers, finding inspiration, beauty, and dignity where you’d least expect it. From the director of Countdown to Zero. Featuring original music by Moby.