(Egypt & Usa, 2009, 80 min)
By : Mai Iskander
Director will be present for a post-screening discussion with audience. Screens: Thursday, March 11th, 7pm
Filmed over four years, GARBAGE DREAMS follows three teenage boys – Adham, a bright precocious 17-year-old; Osama, a charming impish 16-year-old; Nabil, a shy artistic 18-year-old – born into the trash trade and growing up in the world’s largest garbage village, a ghetto located on the outskirts of Cairo. It is a world folded onto itself, an impenetrable labyrinth of narrow roadways camouflaged by trash; it is home to 60,000 Zaballeen (or Zabbaleen), Egypt’s “garbage people.” For generations, the residents of Cairo have depended on the Zaballeen to collect their trash, paying them only a minimal amount for their garbage collection services. The Zaballeen survive by recycling the city’s waste. These entrepreneurial garbage workers recycle 80% of all the garbage they collect, creating what is arguably the world’s most efficient waste disposal system. When the city they keep clean suddenly decides to replace the Zaballeen with multinational garbage disposal companies, the Zaballeen community finds itself at a crossroads. Face to face with the globalization of their trade, each of the teenage boys is forced to make choices that will impact his future and the survival of his community.
Mai Iskander is a producer, director and cinematographer based in New York. GARBAGE DREAMS is Mai’s directorial debut. As a cinematographer, Mai has worked on TV shows for A&E, PBS, LOGO and has filmed numerous dramatics (ROOF SEX) and commercials. She has had the privilege of working with the legendary Albert Maysles on the documentary PROFILES OF A PEACEMAKER. Mai recently returned from Chad, where she worked with Academy Award Nominee Edet Belzberg on her documentary WATCHERS OF THE SKY.
Mai started her career working as a camera assistant for the Academy Award Nominated cinematographer Miroslav Ondricek (AMADEUS, RAGTIME). As a camera assistant, Mai has worked on over a dozen features, such as PREACHER’S WIFE, MEN IN BLACK and AS GOOD AS IT GETS, and on over a hundred commercials. She graduated from New York University, Tisch School of the Arts with a BFA in Film Production and a BA in Economics.