With the participation of Jeremy Irons, Candida Brady’s award winning documentary looks at the risks to the food chain and the environment through pollution of our air, land and sea by waste. The film reveals surprising truths about very immediate and potent dangers to our health. it is a global conversation from Iceland to Indonesia between the film star Jeremy Irons and scientists, politicians and ordinary individuals whose health and livelihoods have been fundamentally affected by waste pollution. Visually and emotionally the film is both horrific and beautiful: an interplay of human interest and political wake-up call. But it ends on a message of hope: showing how the risks to our survival can easily be averted through sustainable approaches that provide far more employment than the current ‘waste industry’.
Trashed was produced by Blenheim Films. Candida Brady wrote, directed and co-produced (along Titus Ogilvy) the film. Jeremy Irons, worked as an executive producer, while Tabitha Troughton an associate producer. Garry Waller worked as art director, while Sean Bobbitt was the cinematographer. Brady and Irons discussed various possible topics, and decided on the problem of waste, because “despite all the evidence and research available, it is not being seriously faced”. Irons helped to raise the finance, and persuaded his friend Vangelis to score the music. The director Candida Brady notes they tried to address potential backlash “by putting all the science together in one place … we’ve got 84 peer-reviewed published studies, so that you couldn’t dispute it. I think a lot of the problems that films have had in the past were things that don’t stand up when you look a little further”. To her the most disturbing study was about umbilical cord blood (2009), which “found up to 232 man-made industrial compounds and pollutants present in a child before it is even born. Ten out of ten babies were shown to have chlorinated dioxins in their blood”. Other influential studies and interviews include Dr Ana Soto (who has researched Bisphenol A in plastic) who “explained that toxic chemicals are afforded the same rights as human beings: innocent until proven guilty”, and Paul Jepson’s work at ZSL about the effect of toxic chemicals on cetaceans in the world’s seas and oceans for 20 years, finding out that the killer whales are no longer able to reproduce as they carry the biggest toxic burden.
According to Irons, the director Brady decided to show the footage of jars containing preserved foetuses with birth defects in a hospital in Vietnam because of two reasons; to most people the dioxins, furans, PCBs and other toxic chemicals are all just words, until they see and understand their impact in the human body and on life in general. Secondly as a 2001 BBC Newsnight investigation found that ash from a London incinerator had a similar level of dioxins to Vietnamese soil, after the spraying of Agent Orange. Most incinerator filters are globally only checked between two and four times annually for a few hours at a time, and in the past medical research was generally interested only into the effects of high dosage, whereas recently they have discovered evidence that dioxins are having an effect on foetuses at very, very low doses. It is thought that it could take six generations to “breed out” genetic damage.
The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on 22 May 2012. In the United States it was released on 14 December 2012. Between 8 April and 7 November 2013, it was released in the United Kingdom, Italy, Russia, Japan and Germany. On 16 November 2016, it will be released in France. It was released on DVD, iTunes Store, it can also be bought and rented online from the official website.
Trashed has received universal positive acclaim by critics. Film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports 87% of critics gave the film a “Fresh” rating, based on 15 reviews with an average score of 7/10. Metacritic, another review aggregator, assigned the film a weighted average score of 71 (out of 100) based on 6 reviews from mainstream critics, considered to be “generally favorable reviews”.
In The New York Times the review notes “if we must talk trash, Mr. Irons — assisted by a scientist or two and Vangelis’s doomy score — is an inspired choice of guide”, and by the time of the visit to the Vietnamese hospital for children, the “plastic water bottle in your hand will feel as dangerous as a Molotov cocktail”. In the New York Daily News review the film received 5/5 stars; the review concluded that “for all the poisonous truths in Trashed, there are also solid grass-roots solutions that, as presented, feel do-able and politically digestible. That helps, because everything Irons finds puts you off food. Crucial viewing for realists and alarmists both”. The Huffington Post concluded with the reviewer’s challenge for “any decent human being to see it from start to finish and still think that garbage should be fooled around with in such close proximity to children”.
The Village Voice noted that “forcing our attention onto the thing most of us love to forget makes its own point. And indeed it is hard to look at the dumps, heaps, toxic seepages, and ocean-polluting plastics shown here to be neither as distant nor as containable as one might hope”. The Variety review concluded that “the pic delivers a judicious mix of human interest and useful statistics that will make it accessible to middle-class auds, especially at green-tinged fests and on upscale broadcasters”.
The Hollywood Reporter’s review considered that the Irons mission placed “him closer to, say, Nick Broomfield”, “Brady’s script has a playschool-simple four-part structure, examining the three main methods of trash-disposal — landfill, incineration and sea-dumping”, while “digital cinematography by Sean Bobbitt present a range of disturbing images with unblinking clarity — and eventually any grounds for optimism become dispiritingly elusive”. However, it “doesn’t present itself as a rounded exploration of the issues it analyzes”, with “anyone who disagrees with its basic theses are non-existent, and we never really get to the bottom of who’s to blame”. In the Los Angeles Times is also noted that although “scientists, doctors and academics weigh in as well, though flipside input from corporate interests and government policymakers would have added welcome dimension to this crucial discussion”. The Empire review gave the film 3/5 stars, considering that “despite offering some sensible solutions, the scale and style are too small-screen for mass conversion”.
The Sabotage Times review concluded that “Trashed is a documentary that needs to be seen, that needs to enter the mainstream. Because we’re (still) trashing the planet. We’ve heard this enough to stop thinking about the implications, to start humming to what’s become white noise – but Trashed rearticulates the message, volunteering a not just inconvenient but downright harrowing set of truths”.
In 2012 it won the “Special Jury Prize” in the “Earth Grand Prix” category at the Tokyo International Film Festival “Audience Award – Movies that Matter” at the Maui Film Festival, and was nominated for the Caméra d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. In 2013 it won the “Special Documentary Award” at the 30th International Environmental Film Festival (FIFE) held in Paris, “Grand Prix Winner” at the Kyiv International Documentary Film Festival, “Palme Verte” at the UK Green Film Festival,”Award of Excellence” and “Best Editing” at the movie awards in Los Angeles, and “Special Mention” at the Cinema Ambiente Festival. In 2014 it won the “Earth Award” at the 5th Cinema Verde Environmental Film and Arts Festival.
Irons noted that the “state and federal government should provide legislation which designs a waste management policy right across the country … that most people would like to cooperate in reducing waste, but to encourage them the national policy should be clear, well advertised and consistent”. Asked what people should do he advised them to research if there is waste-to-energy plant planned in their area and oppose it, while if there is not to discover how the local policy deals with waste. To lobby MP for legislation to cut waste, regulate the production, particularly of toxic plastics, and packaging. To remove all packaging at the point of purchase, thus pushing the problem towards the manufacturers, as well reducing waste both at home and in their workplace.
The film helped to promote, and was also integrated into, Zero Waste initiatives across the world. For example during the screeing in Italy in 2013 it was joined by Zero Waste Italy, ANPAS, municipality Greve in Chianti among others, it promoted the book by Paul Connett, and spread the notice that over 119 Italian municipalities had adopted the Zero Waste program. In 2014, the Italian TV channel Rai 3 made a synthesis about the film.Many people in Singapore decided to join the Zero Waste program after they watched the film.
Since the release it has been shown in over 40 countries, as well as at the UK Houses of Parliament, the Welsh Assembly, the Scottish Parliament, the House of the Oireachtas, the European Parliament, the French National Assembly, the New York Mayor’s Office. In November 2013 in Jakarta the film was seen by then Governor and current President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, and the former President Megawati Sukarnoputri among other policy makers. Earth Hour Communities in 31 Indonesian cities were reached for the screening of the documentary. In 2015, Irons presented the film at the University College Cork in Ireland.
“I have always been interested in environmental issues, the natural life and the cultural environment.”
Renowned today as a pioneer in electronic music, Vangelis, without formal training, began playing piano at the age of four and by age six was giving public performances of his own compositions – his natural gift coming from a place he calls memory – a place he says we can all tap into if we can only remember. With over forty album releases, fifteen movie/TV soundtracks, two Covent Garden ballets, four ancient Greek plays and five major audio/visual spectaculars to his credit, Vangelis is probably best known for his scores for CHARIOTS OF FIRE of Hugh Hudson (for which he won an Academy Award – Oscar), 1492 – CONQUEST OF PARADISE, Ridley Scott’s BLADE RUNNER, Koreyoshi Kurahara’s ANTARCTICA, Roman Polanski’s BITTER MOON, Costa Gavras’ MISSING, Oliver Stone’s ALEXANDER and Iannis Smaragdis’ CAVAFY and EL GRECO. In addition to his Oscar, Vangelis has received an Echo, Golden Lion, Max Steiner, IFPI and other awards throughout his career, while France has bestowed upon him their most prestigious titles: Chevalier de l’ Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and Chevalier de la Légion d’ Honneur and NASA has presented him with their Public Service Medal. Also, the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory named a small planet Vangelis in his honour, due to the international impact and appreciation of his work as well as his rapport with the Universe. The same lifelong devotion and dedication Vangelis has for his music has always been as evident in his visual art. But it was not until recently that he consented to having it shown to the public. He has now had ten major exhibitions of his paintings in leading art museums around the world. Vangelis has also been named Honorary Doctor/Professor Emeritus for his contribution to culture by the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and by the University of Patras, Greece, Honorary Doctor/Professor Emeritus of the Faculty of Physics. The recently released documentary DVD about Vangelis ‘Vangelis and the Journey to Ithaka’ is available to buy here. To Vangelis, music and art are sacred, basic forces of the universe, their purpose to elevate, inspire and to heal human kind. This is Vangelis’ mission, this and his desire to awaken in all of us.
The poster for Trashed was designed by graphic artist Holly Ducker.
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