Meet Award-winning “Waste Land” Filmaker Lucy Walker on January 11th

Filmed over three years, Waste Land tells the story of the world’s largest garbage dump on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and creating art from refuse.

The film plays out in the world’s largest garbage dump, but Waste Land carries an inspiring message that is sure to resonate with all of the recycle-minded, art lovers abound on St. John.

The award-winning documentary’s director Lucy Walker will be on island to kick off St. John Film Society’s Winter 2011 Free Film Series with her January 11 film screening.

“It is an honor for us to be hosting a filmmaker of this caliber,” said Rea McQueen Roberts, St. John Film’s director.

With approximately 20 awards under its belt this year — including Sundance Film Festival’s Audience Award for Best World Cinema Documentary and the Berlin Film Festival’s Panorama Audience Award for Best Film and Amnesty International Human Rights Film Award —film lovers can look forward to Waste Land and Walker making their St. John debut.

Filmed over nearly three years, Waste Land tells the uplifting story of Vik Muniz, the Brooklyn-based, Brazilian native artist, and a group of “catadores” (self-designated pickers of recyclable materials) as they find a way out of Jardim Gramacho, the world’s largest garbage dump located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, into the most prestigious auction house in London.

First Winner at Sundance and Berlin
The documentary — the first film ever to win Audience Awards at both Sundance and Berlin International Film Festivals and featuring music by Moby — follows Muniz as he collaborates with the catadores to create transformative art that reveals both the dignity and despair of these inspiring individuals as they begin to re-imagine their lives.

Andrea Leland, St. John Film Society’s program director who selects its films and serves as its liaison with visiting filmmakers, said she was immediately interested in Waste Land.

“I heard that the film was an uplifting story about Vik Muniz, a Brazilian artist, who was working with people in a garbage dump,” Leland said. “This film deals with recycling and art and presents it in a whole new way — it could be very inspiring to our community who has a serious interest in recycling.”

Walker is best known for directing four feature documentary films — Devil’s Playground (2002), Blindsight (2006) and the two award-winning films currently showing in theaters across the country, Countdown to Zero (2010) and Waste Land (2010).

“I’m excited to have a professional award-winning filmmaker come to St. John, and I think people will find it really interesting to hear what she has to say about her art and her craft,” Leland said.

Through the National Endowment for the Arts grant and St. John Film’s members and strong community supporters, the society has organized on-island visits from six well-renowned filmmakers from April 2010 to April 2011. With Walker heading up St. John Film’s winter film screenings, the society has also lined up Lisa Merton and Alan Dater of Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai on February 22 and Rick Goldsmith, director of The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers, on April 5.

“We have been showing independent films throughout the community — both in Coral Bay and in Cruz Bay for two years now as part of our free independent film series,” said McQueen Roberts. “We are trying to fill a niche — both in the entertainment category and also by bringing meaningful content to St. John. This is providing a different venue for St. John — brining good, quality, independent films to the community has been our goal all along.”

Everyone is encouraged to attend the free screening of Waste Land beginning at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 11, at Sputnik’s in Coral Bay. Reservations are required to attend a pre-fix dinner with the filmmaker starting at 6 p.m., and those interested are asked to email McQueen Roberts at

“We are encouraging people to come before the show to have dinner with the filmmaker,” McQueen Roberts said. “It will be by reservation and it will be pre-fix, including Julietta’s delicious roti, a side dish and dessert.”

St. John Film’s screenings typically draw between 50 and 100 people so bringing along folding chairs is encouraged.

“We hope to see familiar and new faces in the audience,” McQueen Roberts said.

To learn more about Waste Land, visit