Good Garbage

Shosh Shlam and Ada Ushpiz

Israel 2012, 91 min

The Hebron Hills garbage dump serves the surrounding Israeli settlements and is a source of an eked-out livelihood for 200 Palestinian families from in and around the Palestinian village of Yatta. The stories of eleven-year-old Harun, seventeen-year-old Ibrahim, forty-year-old Yusuf, and sixty-yearold Badawi, expose a daily struggle for subsistence in an inescapable reality of occupation. These are the children of the Occupation who were born after 1967 and have never known any other reality. The violent daily struggle for every scrap of metal in the dump distracts from other everyday pains: a son who sold land to the Jews, a woman who cannot reunite with her family in Jordan, a father serving a life sentence in an Israeli prison, and illiterate parents who push their children to work in the dump while simultaneously holding onto the dream of seeing them break out of this vicious cycle and completing a high-school degree. For the average person in the village of Yatta, who has lost all faith in politics, personal success and education have become weapons against the Occupation; weapons that might extricate them from the suffocating trap of the garbage dump, both literally and figuratively.

Just next to the truck is yet another group of avid treasure-hunters, waiting for the garbage to leave the truck and hit the ground where the search can begin. We believe it to be survival of the fittest. A daily struggle to find the best pieces in the piles of garbage. And perhaps it is so. But in Shosh Shlam and Ada Ushpiz’s movie Good Garbage there seems to be an unwritten agreement about who gets what. When a pile of garbage leaves the truck the men seem to divide it between them. We don’t see any arguments, we don’t see any fights. At least not at first.

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