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Waste Land

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Brazil, United Kingdom · 2010
1h 30m
Director Lucy Walker
Starring Vik Muniz
Genre Documentary

Contemporary artist Vik Muniz takes us on an emotional documentary 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.

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What are people saying?

What are critics saying?


Washington Post by

Spend some time there, thanks to the documentary Waste Land, and you start to get the sense that, amid the trash, something really is blooming.


The Hollywood Reporter by John DeFore

Overall, though, the project brings enough good into this rough corner of the world that viewers can walk out with honest cause to be hopeful for its inhabitants.


Time Out by Joshua Rothkopf

It probably would have helped if Walker (who credits two other codirectors) had chosen just one of those avenues for deeper study; her doc has a vertiginous way of feeling arty and ephemeral at one moment, humane and maybe too earthbound the next.


The A.V. Club by Scott Tobias

Though narrower in scope and lacking the first-person angle, Waste Land resembles Agnès Varda's great 2000 documentary "The Gleaners & I," particularly in its awe of tough, creative, hard-working people who live on the margins.


The New York Times by Stephen Holden

"We are not pickers of garbage; we are pickers of recyclable materials," Tião, an impoverished Brazilian catadore, or trash picker, declares to a talk-show host in Lucy Walker's inspiring documentary Waste Land.


Philadelphia Inquirer by Steven Rea

It's not a very good title, Waste Land - this isn't a bleak film, at all - but just about everything else in Lucy Walker's documentary works, and illuminates.


Boston Globe by Wesley Morris

Waste Land is just what the film's website says it is: "stirring evidence of the transformative power of art and the alchemy of the human spirit."

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