Garbage Dreams

Recycled choices make for a meager existence for Cairo’s slum boys

Al Gore’s a Nobel Prize laureate and an Oscar Award-winning filmmaker. It’s not much of a stretch to believe he’s a film critic, too. At least that’s what the publicists for Mai Iskander’s fascinating documentary Garbage Dreamsseem to think; they lavishly use his quotes in all press materials — “a moving story of young men…facing tough choices as they try to do the right thing for the planet…a compelling case that modernization does not always equal progress…a place so different from our own and yet the choices they face there are so hauntingly familiar.” Actually, Gore needn’t weigh in at all; the 2009 documentary speaks eloquently all by itself. Garbage Dreams tells the tale of three teenage slum boys from Egypt, born into the Zabaleen, or garbage collectors of Cairo, who not only live surrounded by the filth they collect but make a living recycling nearly all of it. As ecologists, these poorest of the poor probably represent the most efficient, if not the strangest, recycling program on earth. Their way of life, however, faces extinction as global waste management conglomerates seek to take over the business. Now, even the boys’ dreams face extinction. 7 p.m. Rice University, 6100 Main. For information, call 713-348-4882 or visit www.ricecinema.rice.edu. Free.
Wed., Jan. 20, 7 p.m., 2010

 
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