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The Green Life: Movie Review Friday: Garbage Dreams

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January 15, 2010

Movie Review Friday: Garbage Dreams

Escape to the movies with one of our Movie Review Friday selections. Each week we review a film with an environmental theme that's currently in theaters or available on DVD. Seen a good eco-flick lately? Send us a short review and look for it in the next Movie Review Friday.

Garbage Dreams (2009)

See the Web site to order a DVD or click here to find a screening near you.

When Adham, a 17-year-old who lives in a garbage village on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt, is asked what he'd do with all the trash if he owned a landfill, he says: "I'd dig it out. It's all a gift from God to be recycled and reused."

Where he lives, recycling and reusing are more than earth-friendly actions; they're the only ways of life. Adham is part of the Zaballeen (Arabic for "garbage people"), a peasant community whose only source of income is to recycle trash collected from the streets of Cairo – a city with no waste-disposal system.

A crisis ensues when Cairo decides to contract companies from Spain and Italy to dispose of the trash. The film follows Adham and two other trash-collecting boys, Nabil and Osama, chronicling the choices they make to secure their survival. Forced to adopt newer trash-collecting methods, the Zaballeen start a recycling school where children learn to read, write, and do business.

The film does an excellent job of portraying the cultural pressures that the boys deal with, and provides a touching example of hard work and perseverance in an attempt to make the best life possible. It's humbling to watch these teens aspire to live like Westerners, and a good reminder of how much we take for granted.

--Michael Mullaley

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