In another corner of my life I co-manage a reuse store, which may explain why I so enjoyed this movie, when I saw it on the big screen. Gleaning is the art of gathering what others have deemed unwanted. Agnès Varda has crafted this very personal and quirky documentary that has won awards all over the place. At times she gets a little side-tracked but for the most part focuses on a underbelly of society, that many don’t realise is even there. We met people who scavenge vegetables from the fields after harvesting, and learn that in Europe there are indeed long established laws allowing this. Another group are discovered doing the same thing, finding the bulk of their food in the leftovers from urban produce markets. In the gloom of the night we stop to talk to collectors sifting through household discards put out on the kerbside, for the local government to take to landfill. One such gleaner (or dumpster diver, if you prefer) shows us through his house, furnished almost entirely from the detritus of others lives. While the lifestyles led by those interviewed may not be what many of us aspire to, their take on how the developed world cast asides useful resources should cause astute viewers to see the world around us in the different light. The ‘waste’ our affluent society leaves in its wakes is truly staggering and this movie reminds us that it needn’t be so. Apparently the DVD includes a one hour film, that follows up on the eclectic characters we’ve seen and records how they've fared, two years on.
:: Buy The Gleaners and I (DVD) by Agnès Varda