Garbage Dreams is a documentary shot over four years by Mai Iskander. The setting is the world’s largest garbage village and home for Zaballeen, garbage people. The main heroes are three teenagers Adham, Osama, and Nabil, who live there all their life, collect trash in Cairo and recycle it, and the village itself. The stories and dreams of boys, depicted along with their fears and family issues, are the main theme that the author shows in the movie. He illustrates that no matter whether you work with garbage or in the high-tech industry, dreams do not become a reality unless you work hard.
The filmmaker’s point is to show how devoted people are to their job and how important garbage is for them. Working hard every day for centuries, Zabaleens collected trash and recycled eighty percent of it. They were mostly uneducated, could not read and write but we’re the only community that collected garbage in Cairo. After they founded a Recycling school, the youth studied to write and read, use maps and computers. When children were sixteen-eighteen years old, they already had a big working experience and belief that a man should be strong and never give up. All of them had dreams about their future mostly connected with the garbage.
The author structured the movie in such a way the audience could get to know as much information as possible. There are three types of video scenes in the film: interviews with main heroes, where they share their fears, dreams, and hopes; scenes with Laila, a community activist and a teacher, who was discussing problems and plans with members of the community; and the scenery of village and the city with people deeply immersed in their routine, namely eating, arguing, working or having a rest. Such structuring and changing the type of scenes make it easier to comprehend a serious documentary movie.
Zabaleens are industrious and hard-working. They do not complain about life or give up. They feel garbage recycling is their mission and even destiny. All who found the dream job succeed. Thus, the author demonstrates that even working in such a peculiar field, Adham, Osama, and Nabil are happy, and their garbage dreams will come true one day. Such representation of the topic is justifiable.