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.

  • Couple married 67 years holds hands in final hours together
    Couple married 67 years holds hands in final hours together

    FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — After spending 67 years together as devoted husband and wife, there was no question how Floyd and Violet Hartwig would end their lives — together. …

  • Lupita Nyong'o's $150,000 Oscars dress stolen from hotel
    Lupita Nyong'o's $150,000 Oscars dress stolen from hotel

    The $150,000 pearl-studded, custom-made Calvin Klein dress worn by Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o at this year's Academy Awards has been stolen, police said on Thursday. The gown, embellished with 6,000 natural white pearls, was stolen from Nyong'o's room at the London Hotel in West Hollywood, during the day on Wednesday, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department in West Hollywood said. "Ms Nyong'o was not in the room at the time of the theft," Deputy John Mitchell …

  • US-led strikes on IS after group seizes 220 Christians
    US-led strikes on IS after group seizes 220 Christians

    The US-led coalition has carried out air strikes against the Islamic State group in northeastern Syria, where the jihadists have launched a new offensive and kidnapped 220 Assyrian Christians. The raids on Thursday struck areas around the town of Tal Tamr in Hasakeh province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, without giving information on possible casualties. The town remains under the control of Kurdish forces, but at least 10 surrounding villages have been seized by IS, along …

  • Militants want US Marines pulled out of Negros
    Militants want US Marines pulled out of Negros

    The militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) is calling for the pullout of US Marines who arrived in Sagay City, Negros Occidental last Wednesday to train Special Action Force (SAF) commandos and members of the allied forces. The SAF commandos and the allied forces will secure the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) ministerial meeting in this city. Bayan-Negros secretary general Christian Tuayon said the US troops might violate the human rights of activists, especially those …

  • 3 Pinays on Forbes power women list
    3 Pinays on Forbes power women list

    Three Filipina executives, who are all daughters of known business tycoons in the country, made it to Forbes’ list of the 50 most powerful businesswomen in Asia. Teresita Sy-Coson, vice chairman of SM Investments and chairman of BDO Universal Bank, was included in the list for the fourth year in a row since its inception. “Under her (Sy-Coson) lead SMIC became the largest listed company on the Philippine Stock Exchange by market cap. Also in the 2015 list is 70-year-old Helen Yuchengco-Dee, …

  • China subs outnumber US fleet – admiral
    China subs outnumber US fleet – admiral

    China is building some “fairly amazing submarines” and now has more diesel- and nuclear-powered vessels than the United States, a top US Navy admiral told US lawmakers on Wednesday, although he said their quality was inferior. Vice Admiral Joseph Mulloy, deputy chief of naval operations for capabilities and resources, told the House Armed Services Committee’s seapower subcommittee that China was also expanding the geographic areas of operation for its submarines, and their length of …

  • Militants abduct more Christians, smash ancient artifacts
    Militants abduct more Christians, smash ancient artifacts

    BEIRUT (AP) — Islamic State militants seized more Christians from their homes in northeastern Syria in the past three days, bringing the total number abducted by the extremist group to over 220, activists said Thursday. …

  • Pacman mega fight tax exemption up to Congress, BIR
    Pacman mega fight tax exemption up to Congress, BIR

    Malacañang is leaving it up to Congress and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to consider a proposed special tax exemption for boxing icon Manny Pacquiao in his much-awaited fight with Floyd Mayweather. …


Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Poll Choice Options