Thursday, April 5, 2012

2012 Atlanta Film Festival review: TRASH DANCE

Andrew Garrison's Trash Dance is a scant 68 minutes long, yet this joyous documentary succeeds in profiling the meeting of two disparate worlds: one of Austin, Texas trash collectors performing their day-to-day duties, and the other of avant-garde choreographer Allison Orr, whose calling is to take untrained dancers and fit them into performances highlighting their daily lives.   These blue-collar workers have a difficult time, at first, understanding what the unfailingly sunny Orr is trying to do, but it doesn't take them long to get into the spirit of this project, mainly because Orr herself is so eager to learn about their world.  She's done this sort of thing before with firefighters, gondoliers and Elvis impersonators, so she's well prepared to dive into her new subject matter head first.  She's seen riding the backs of garbage trucks, hurling bags of lawn trimmings into the crushers, and even reluctantly scooping up animal carcasses off the side of the road (Trash Dance illuminates for us the myriad varieties of refuse collecting, too--something to which I don't think many of us have given much thought).

Garrison's cameras somehow find the time to highlight the winning personalities of each garbage man and woman here, delving into how they landed and what they think of their gigs. The filmmaker clearly has much respect for these workers who've deigned to take a job few would consider embarking on.  He captures a lovable bunch of people who're totally up for working with Orr, whose infectious enthusiasm results in a beautifully rainswept final performance involving not only the inventively-placed workers, but their treasured vehicles and machinery as well. Trash Dance is, ultimately, a tasty bon-bon of a movie, even if its subject matter might seem a little stinky to the uninitiated.

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