Winner of 2019 Cinequest, Michael Dominic’s documentary about an impoverished family who lives off Central America’s biggest landfill, and their attempt to get out of poverty
In 2011 NYC-based documentarist Michael Dominic started filming a family of six with very young children as they scavenged La Chureca, South America’s biggest open-air landfill in Managua, for survival. Eight years later, he was able to make a film about the Lopez family’s journey against the odds of poverty. Helped by an American “gringa” philanthropist but plagued by the demons of mental health problems, internalized marginalization and inherited traumas, the Lopezes represent a timeless, and yet very contemporary tale of people trying to fill in roles they’re expected to fill without much guidance.
This interesting story unravelled further as some really bizarre events happened to the family. Michael Dominic really lucked out with his characters: the kids are some of the most adorable I’ve ever seen on screen, and their parents are a tangle of complications and layers. I watched the film with an open mouth: it’s incredibly powerful stuff in terms of the social commentary it delivers, but also has the gripping qualities of true crime TV and a very dark and fascinating subplot.
Clean Hands, 2019
Director: Michael Dominic