The interactive documentary website will be divided into three sections


Section one

The first section will include a series of short interviews with waste pickers in different cooperatives who are further down the line on their cooperative journey. These videos will serve as training for other catadores on important issues, such as health and safety at work, practical advice on how to create a cooperative, financial and business structure, as well as management.

Through lessons from active cooperatives, information and achievements can be shared – and waste pickers can learn from each other’s experiences. Many catadores are illiterate, therefore using the medium of film is the most effective educational tool. In addition, as we’ve already established contacts with organisations working with catadores in Mozambique, the Brazilian catadores’ experience can be shared with waste pickers in Mozambique where they work in significantly worse conditions than in Brazil.



The second section will consist of interviews with industry experts who have worked in solid waste management in Brazil for a number of years. This will include academics, NGOs and other leading professionals in the field who provide technical support, guidance on infrastructure and political mobilisation. This section will be much more specialised and technical (less practical than the ‘know how’ style of the previous section). We feel that there is a need for two separate sections to make the other one more accessible to a wider audience.


The third section’s target audience will be the public who often, especially in the Western world, might not have ever heard of the existence, yet alone the work of waste pickers. This section will be visually intriguing and seductive, deeply rooted in the principles of poetic documentary, thereby appealing to audiences who normally might not be interested in the fate of waste pickers. 

This section will provide an intimate insight into the daily lives of waste pickers by following a waste picker through his day and taking part in his struggles and joys. Filmed in an observational style this section will provide immersive, unique experience as the viewers empathise with the waste picker. 

Why poetic style? 

The genesis of this film goes back to a 1927 film La Zone au pays des chiffonniers by Georges Lacombe. The film’s simple narrative portraits the lives of rag-pickers in a shanty town in Paris from dawn to dusk. Belonging to the social avant-grade, La Zone is a documentary, which achieves its political task without any rhetoric. As reviewed by some film critiques back then, the film “succeeds in being poetic without ceasing to be true and, which, even better, reaches truth by route of poetry”. In this vein, our hope is that ‘Catadores: the Trailblazers’ will achieve the same goal.

It is often assumed that the aim of documentary practice must be firstly to portray the truth – and that viewing pleasure only comes second. Many often erroneously believe that ‘beautiful’ images cannot be obtained, unless it is at the expense of reality. However, as a study of Strand reveals, “there need be no exclusionary relations between documentation and artfulness.” In fact, artful films can evoke emotional response even more effectively to convey ideas and feelings. We believe that this is the most effective style for documentary for social change.