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Verde Laguna: Environmental films get the 'Grad' award

March 03, 2011|By Gustavo Grad

And the Verde Laguna Award for environmental documentary film in the "Materials & Resources" category goes to "Waste Land" from Brazilian director Lucy Walker, and in the "Energy & Atmosphere" category the award goes to "Gasland," a film by Josh Fox.

Without any commercial interruption (we have no sponsors), the award for animated short in the "Environmental Air Quality" category goes to "Let's Pollute!" a wonderful cartoon about waste by illustrator and Pixar veteran Geefwee Boedoe.

Finally, as best foreign-language film under the "Sustainable Site" category, the award goes to "Sun Come Up," co-produced by Jennifer Redfearn and Tim Metzger, a quick video about the world's first climate change refugees (nominated under a different category by the other Academy).

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The "Waste Land" website, http://www.wastelandmovie.com, welcomes visitors with an out-of-focus photo of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, and the phrase, "What happens in the world's largest trash city will transform you."

This movie, directed by Walker and produced by Fernando Miralles (director of the award winner "City of God"), in 2010 won the Sundance Film Festival Audience Award for Best World Cinema Documentary, the Berlin Film Festival Panorama Audience Award for Best Film and the IDFA Audience Award for Best Documentary.

The realization of the film took nearly three years, and it is a narrative voyage in which director Walker follows the renowned artist Vik Muniz as he journeys from his home base in Brooklyn to the world's largest garbage dump, Jardim Gramacho, located outside Rio de Janeiro.

Muniz, a Brazilian who began his career as a sculptor and gradually became exclusively a photographer, arrived to Jardim Gramacho and started talking photographs of an eclectic band of "catadores" (name used for the pickers of recyclable materials) and soon the collaboration with these inspiring characters as they recreate photographic images of themselves out of garbage revealed both the dignity and despair of the catadores as they begin to reimagine their lives. This work concluded in assemblage portraits constructed entirely out of garbage.

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