Waste Land is a documentary about the Brazilian artist Vik Muniz and his “social work” with workers from the garbage dump Jardim Gramacho. All that poverty is heartbreaking and outrageous in a country with absurd social differences where a few people have a monthly wage that could save lot of families. At the end of the film I could only think how unfair the situation is – Muniz had an amazing and beautiful gesture, but the real changes in the community and their lives were minimal – and felt like that Boris’s quote*:
“But what do you do? You read about some massacre in Darfur or some school bus gets blown up, and you go “Oh my God, the horror,” and then you turn the page and finish your eggs from the free range chickens. Because what can you do? It’s overwhelming!".
Because, what can we do? As the Brazilian filmmaker João Moreira Salles says, it would be an illusion to think that a documentary can change the world and its characters. Vik Muniz did his part and it must be enough.
Other films had already explored this theme like Ilha das Flores (Isle of Flowers, by Jorge Furtado) and Estamira (directed by Macros Prado), both stronger than Waste Land**. This documentary is important to both social and artistic worlds, but it’s quite normal as a film. The soundtrack, composed by Mody, sounds superficial and too much melodramatic sometimes. The same happens to some scenes like the one where Vik Muniz, alone in his place, looks to the world globe in his hands with a desolate expression. It’s one of those poor scenes where we can almost listen the director saying: take the globe in your hands, look at it, make a sad face, you miss those people, yes, like that, good, that’s it . Cut.
- Whatever Works, by Woody Allen.
**There’s also the documentary Boca de Lixo, directed by Edurado Coutinho, that I haven’t seen yet.