Cannes gets 'trashed' with two meaty documentaries

Two high-profile documentaries exposing the impact of reckless waste dumping on local communities and public health brought a dose of consciousness-raising to the Cannes glamour fest Tuesday.

"Polluting Paradise", a five-year labour of love by Turkish-German director and Cannes favourite Fatih Akin, and "Trashed", produced by British actor Jeremy Irons, question consumer society's approach to rubbish in distinct ways.

Akin, who lives in Hamburg, stumbled upon the scandal of a garbage landfill built just above his ancestral village in Turkey while filming "The Edge of Heaven", for which he snagged the Cannes screenplay prize in 2007.

Despite local protests against the dump in the idyllic tea-growing and fishing community in northeastern Turkey, it is hastily built and fails to comply with the most basic engineering and hygienic standards.

Village women are seen with their headscarves wrapped around their faces to block out the stench of the rotten rubbish as the camera lingers over mountains of refuse scavenged by birds, stray dogs and flies.

Akin traces the saga of the community's attempts to get the site repaired, if not removed entirely, after waste begins to seep into the local groundwater and retaining walls collapse.

Residents confront corrupt and incompetent officials touring the site, who make hollow pledges to take up the problem with the regional government.

Akin, who served on the Cannes jury in 2005, told AFP the film project was originally intended as a "threat" to throw his sizeable clout in Turkey and Germany to bring about a change for the villagers.

But as it became clear that nothing was being done to help them, he followed through with the documentary.

"It's like in a street fight in a way. The fight is starting and it's not ending and you can't stop and go home in the middle of a fight," said Akin, whose dramas often focus on Turkish-Germans caught between two worlds.

"Anger is a gift, especially for cinema. It's an engine for power in a way."

Akin said it was possible to channel the massive media attention focused on Cannes toward smaller, socially relevant pictures with a message like his.

"What I like about this festival is that you have Brangelina coming here and getting all this attention but they're like the Trojan horse, inside of them there are these little very interesting films from all over the world," he said.

If "Polluting Paradise" is an intimate portrait of one community's struggle, "Trashed" by British director Candida Brady is a sweeping manifesto about the developed world's failure to find a viable answer to its waste problem.

Irons, the film's executive producer and affable on-screen narrator, hopscotches the globe to spotlight the poisonous effect that irresponsible waste management has on air, water, soil, wildlife and human health.

Trudging in wellies across filthy beaches in Lebanon, inspecting prison compost heaps in Yorkshire and touring a state-of-the-art recycling plant in San Francisco, the actor conveys disbelief at the scope of the problem and excitement about potential solutions, with a shot of rascally humour.

After over an hour surveying putrid landscapes and sullied seawater, the film looks at ways consumers can reduce their tonnes of annual waste by bringing their own bags and containers to shops and encouraging manufacturers to reduce and improve packaging.

"I had a desire to do something more useful than just endless entertainment films," said the Oscar-winning star of "Reversal of Fortune" and television's "The Borgias".

"All I'm really doing is what I can do to hopefully encourage a different way of living," he said. "We are all sinners but that doesn't mean we can't do something about it."

Irons told reporters that while such documentaries benefited from the Cannes limelight, the festival too needed a reality check now and then.

"I think it also gives a little bit more relevance to Cannes," he said.

"We watch Sacha Baron Cohen and things but actually there's an awful lot that can get better with the world. Why don't we spend a few moments of our dinner parties or drinks parties discussing them as well as whether Brad Pitt needs a haircut?"


Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • US-Philippines wargames to start under China's shadow
    US-Philippines wargames to start under China's shadow

    Thousands of American and Filipino soldiers on Monday will kick off expanded wargames, showcasing a deepening defence alliance as alarm bells ring over China. The 10-day exercises in the Philippines are an annual affair between the longtime allies, but this time they will involve double the number of soldiers as last year in a sign of their expanding military partnership. The Philippines is seeking more US military and diplomatic support to fend off China's increasing forcefulness in its bid …

  • Bar ban for US troops in Philippines amid murder trial
    Bar ban for US troops in Philippines amid murder trial

    The US Pacific Command has banned its troops in the Philippines from bars and nightclubs, a spokesman said Saturday, with the trial under way of a US Marine accused of murdering a transgender Filipina he met in a bar. Thousands of American and Filipino soldiers will on Monday kick off 10-day annual military excercises, according to Captain Alex Lim, a spokesman for the US forces, but there will be strict controls on their free time. Lim would not say why the restrictions were imposed but …

  • Biker Beauty: Honda and David's Salon Pampering Day
    Biker Beauty: Honda and David's Salon Pampering Day

    Honda Philippines Inc. (HPI), and David's Salon recently held the awarding ceremony for the Metro Manila winner of the David's Salon Scooter Raffle Promo at the 5th level of SM Megamall Building A. Loyal patron Maria Theresa Guevara took home a brand new Honda Click 125i. Present to grace the occasion were David's Salon Creative Director Laura Charlton and HPI Assistant Vice-President for Sales and Marketing Hideo Nishinaga.To the delight of all those in attendance, guests were treated to …

  • ‘Next leader must not be newbie’
    ‘Next leader must not be newbie’

    Vice President Jejomar Binay believes the next president of the Philippines must have vast experience and a long track record in governance and in dealing with crises. “I am very much convinced that the local government is the best training ground for those who want to run for national government positions,” he said. Binay said he is determined to run for president in 2016 on the strength of his competence and track record. …

  • Massacre suspect tests negative for poisoning
    Massacre suspect tests negative for poisoning

    A suspect in the Maguindanao massacre case who had been examined at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) tested negative for poisoning, medical records released yesterday showed. However, the Quezon City court handling the multiple murder case resolved to isolate Police Officer 1 Pia Kamidon from the rest of the accused detained at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig for his safety. In a two-page order, Regional Trial Court Branch 221 assisting Judge Genie Gapas-Agbada ordered jail officials to …

  • ‘Homework first before Facebook’
    ‘Homework first before Facebook’

    President Aquino elicited laughter from students here as he reminded them to open books first before Facebook. “Finish your assignments first before making a raid in the Clash of Clans,” Aquino said, referring to a popular online game. In a speech during the turnover yesterday of two new three-story buildings at the Tarlac National High School, he said the government could only provide opportunities for learning but the rest of the work would be up to the students. The new school buildings …

  • Espina resignation confirmed; Noy looks for replacement
    Espina resignation confirmed; Noy looks for replacement

    President Aquino ended speculations yesterday and confirmed that Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina had indeed resigned as officer-in-charge of the Philippine National Police. As of this time, we are conducting various interviews and checks on the various candidates,” Aquino told reporters at the Tarlac National High School in Tarlac City. Aquino had kind words for Espina, saying that he stood by and defended the 44 slain police Special Action Force (SAF) commandos in the operation in …

  • Palace welcomes G7 concern over sea reclamation
    Palace welcomes G7 concern over sea reclamation

    President Aquino welcomed yesterday the Group of Seven industrialized countries’ expression of concern over rising tension in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea, calling it a clear indication of the global scope of the problem ramped up by China’s massive reclamation activities in disputed waters. In Tarlac City where he led the turnover of new classrooms, Aquino told reporters that goodwill and not tension must prevail in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea, where territorial …


Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Poll Choice Options