Trash To Treasure, Pre-Brazil Film: Waste Land & Vick Muniz

As I was flipping through Netflix, I saw Waste Land with Vick Muniz, the most famous Brazilian artist. In the beginning, I thought I would lose interest, but when they started interviewing the recyclable material “pickers”, my interest piqued. The film turned out to be inspirational, tear- jerking and one that ALL artists and humanitarians need to watch. It is also a great film for those that DON’T understand the importance of the arts, when you watch this film, you will SEE the concrete and soul changing IMPACT that art can do to a community, people and even the government.

What is the film/documentary about? Filmed over three years, Vick Muniz visits the trash pickers of Brazil, in Jardim Gramacho (the largest landfill) in order to create portraits out of trash/recycled goods and to bring awareness, raise funds through the art. His visit turns into a collaboration with the trash pickers, who are inspiring, cheerful, positive people. The catadore (garbage picker) support each other like family; aka someone broke 2 arms and a leg due to being crushed by a trash truck and 20 people donated their blood to him.

By the way, did I mention I picked this movie because that is by far, one of my favorite artworks in history (man in bathtub, dying).

Result of All This? The community was so encouraged, some got to go to London, they got to see the ACTUAL work of their own hands….they realize that they could do something great. One lady left an abusive husband because she SAW herself and her worth through creating art. Art empowered her. Moreover, they raised so much money from the art that in 2012, Jardim Gramacho landfills will be shut down and they will be transitioning to another system. Vick’s efforts has led to a learning center which educates and

You can see the trailer here:

Why Am I Talking About This? This film truly shows the LIFE changing power of the arts. The art seeks to bring beauty and worth to the audience as well as the creator. This film was also vital for me to understand an outcasted part of Brazil, where I will be going May 23 to June 7. Though I have applied for the press program in Brazil, I have yet to hear from them. Watching this film made me realize that perhaps it’ll be okay to pave my own path, whatever that may look like. Perhaps I will meet people on the street that I may become good friends with and teach me about life, I am open to where the spirit will take me.

I can also relate to Vick because like him, I had to work my way up (well, now I don’t think of “going up”, I think of “going forward” since we Americans have such disjointed views of what that looks like). He was born into a lower/middle class family and was relatively poor. One time he accidentally got shot by a guy who had money and compensated him for the wound. Vick was smart enough to use the money to fly to NY where he became a renowned artist.

I don’t think it’s accidental that I watched this film. I have always pioneered to create art that made people think, someday I want to be a successful artist who can help people like that. But for now, I think I’m already doing that, though I can’t see the impact sometimes.

Help me raise $2,600 by May 13 so I can experience the film first hand in Ecuador and Brazil. The leader of the Pickers Association had a dream to have an association, even his family rejected him and people thought he was crazy (even the people he tried to help). At one point, the $6,000 he got from the bank to pay his workers was taken by a stranger who put a gun to his head. He wanted to give up at that point- I started crying because I KNEW EXACTLY HOW HE FELT. You believe in your dreams, but few people do. You meet obstacles and you want to give up. I’m telling you- DON’T. 

“I’d rather want everything & have nothing than have everything & want nothing because at least when you want something your life has meaning, it’s worthwhile. The moment you have everything, you have to search for meaning in other things. I spent my whole life wanting everything, but having nothing. Now I have everything, but I don’t want anything.” -Vick Muniz

Comments are very welcome! Please leave a comment even to say hi! I appreciate it!

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