This eye-opening documentary follows happy-go-lucky Brazilian Claudine, father of 27, as he tours Sao Paulo in his VW bus cleaning up the city streets. As he hauls in trash for cash, dragging his gaggle of kids in tow, he represents the new foot soldier in the battle for a cleaner future. But has he created more chaos than even he can deal with?
Tucked away in the bustling streets of Sao Paulo, huge stacks of detritus, of almost every imaginable material, tower over Claudine, hischildren and wives. Kittens and puppies scramble over it as innumerable hands sift through the piles of TVs, fish tanks, cabinets and chairs... Claudine's massive extended family is fed through recycling. "I can't even remember all my kids' names" he chuckles. But from the clutter order emerges, as well as contentment. Claudine teaches his children about the massive value of waste paper, cardboard, aluminium and copper, equipping them with life skills such as rebuilding computers out of spare parts.
We follow Claudine and his undaunted green truck as it meanders through the teeming city streets, collecting and distributing recycling: it is, as Claudine stoically views it, "our cross to bear". Addicted to picking up women as well as waste, Claudine has collected four present wives and three ex-wives while "doing business and making connections." Throughout the course of the film Claudine's ramshackle yet charming family are slowly revealed, each bearing their own idiosyncratichistory. He runs an egalitarian household where "all the work is divided equally" although his romantic morals are jokingly branded as "shameless" by one of his wives!
His van may be stacked metres into the air, leaning precariously as it inches away from the pavement, yet Claudine is proud of his solid family business. His children too are positive and ambitious. One is looking to be a lawyer, another a vet. A daughter explains "I'm proud of my father,"while a son demonstrates all his father has taught him about mechanics.
Claudine too has ambitions, for a compressor and a larger truck. With a massively curious mind, he visits a recycling plant to get to grips with how Polypropylene is recycled through whirling cogs and noisy pistons to become a dark spiders web of plastic ribbon. "I'm going to start pulling it out of sewers, because the earth doesn't eat it" he concludes.
Claudine is not alone in the hoarding business. Many men and women haul up to a 100kg of recycling on carts in order to make a day's crust. Despite complaints from the mayor's office about hoarders disrupting traffic, Claudine and his compatriots are optimistic. One hauler proudly proclaims "I eat in restaurants!" The haulers support unionisation and Claudine may just be the one to organise them. Though often seen as little more than beggars, Claudine argues there's honour in this work: "People look and they see garbage, but they don't understand what's behind a piece of paper thrown on the ground, or a soda can lying on the sidewalk."
One day he may even set up his own computer store. For now though, the family celebrates life and "becoming famous" with a BBQ. Claudine smiles, "My father raised 18 of us from recycling. I do it with love". Warm and honest, this film is both an inspiring take on human industriousness and a metaphor for human excess.
53'/120' min 00'' sec
Journeyman Video - $2.99