This film follows Brazilian artist Vik Muniz, who goes back to his hometown in Brazil, and uses garbage to create artwork that depicts the lives of the people who work in the largest landfill in the world in the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. This film doesn’t just talk about the art work that is created, but goes in depth about the people who live there and work there daily. The daily struggles that they are faced with, the lives they live and how the life as a ‘picker’ affects them. Throughout the documentary Vik Muniz meets and interviews a couple of pickers who have their very own unique backgrounds.
Also there is the introduction of the Association of Pickers of Jardmin Gramacho, a union type group that was formed in order to get better working conditions and more rights. Vik Muniz is a Brazilian born artist who moved to New York City in 1983, after bizarre twists of events. He was trying to break up a fight, and when he was returning back to his car, someone shot him in the leg. The man who shot him was wealthy and paid him for compensation. With that money Vik Muniz bought a ticket to America.
He then worked at low-end jobs and attended classes at the New School and the New York University, where he found his passion for art. Skipping ahead a couple of years, Vik Muniz had put his work in galleries and caught the eyes of the people all around the world, and the rest is history. Vik Muniz is a great example of the American dream, of coming from nothing and working his way to the top. Tiao was one of the key people through the documentary. He was in his late twenties to early thirties, and he was the president of the Association of Pickers of Jardmin Gramacho.
He told his story about how people laughed at him when he said he had a dream, to form a group to get better working conditions for the pickers. I would have to say that he is the definition of dedication and a leader. Even though people rejected his idea of forming a group and protesting to get better working conditions, he kept at it. Another key person in the documentary was Suelem, a single mother who had been working as a picker for eleven years. The documentary follows her and she explains her daily life, and shows her houses.
I felt that she was extremely courageous she was able to work and raise kids, and at the same time keeping her dignity by accepting her job as a picker as an honest living, and not doing what most girls were doing, which was prostitution. I can clearly remember the part in the documentary where she talks about the food she eats while she is working. She says “If I don’t die, it’s not bad. ” Throughout the film there were other pickers that Vik Muniz interviews, such as Zumbi, Valter dos Santos, Isis, Irma, and Magna. All of these people work in bad conditions and yet all of them seem content with their job.
A prime example is Valter dos Santos, a picker for twenty-six years, and also vice president of the Association of Pickers of Jardmin Gramacho. He is cheerful and talks about how being poor isn’t a bad thing. He says, “It’s not bad to be poor. It’s bad to be rich at the height of fame with your morals a dirty shame. ” Valter’s old age didn’t stop him from working and it didn’t affect his high spirits. After watching this documentary, my reflection is that this film really made me open my eyes and see that we live in such a great country and a lot of people don’t have all of the things that we have here in America.
Here in America, we hardly ever see poverty in its true form. We only see it on the T. V. or just small glimpse’s, as the number of homeless increase. The film depicts the hard life that they live, and yet here in America we have people complaining about good jobs. The pickers in the documentary really are living the hard life, and for some reason they are my hero’s. I never realized how blessed we are here in America and it is so unfortunate that people in other countries don’t have nearly as much as we do. I feel as though the people in this documentary work a lot harder than a lot of us here in America.
If you were working as a picker, you would appreciate what you have and even though it’s hard, you are becoming a better person in the end. I’m not saying I’m not a good person, but I’m not perfect and it’s hard when you have all these things spoiling you, here in America. On another note, I really liked how the film just didn’t focus on the artworks that Vik Muniz created in the end, but instead showed where the art was coming from. The story behind each person and their joint effort to create the art works.
In the end, the documentary really got me to sit there and captivated me. I personally don’t like documentaries due to the narratives or the boring interviews, but this was an amazing story of how people live these harsh lives, yet they are happy with what they have. To me the whole part about the artwork didn’t really make sense to why he made them dress or pose in a certain way. But the fact that the profits were going to the Association of Pickers of Jardmin Gramacho, made the documentary feel like a Disney movie with a happy ending.
I feel we should all be like Vik Muniz and give back to the community that we grew up in, and go even further than that and give back to really anyone we can. When I become a teacher I know I will be giving back to so many because I won’t be just a teacher but I will be responsible for shaping children’s lives and I want any experience that my children have with me to be a positive one that they will remember and talk about forever. I want to be a teacher that one day one of my students will say “I want to be a teacher because my 3rd grade teacher had such a huge impact on my life and I want to do the same for my students. ”