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In the 19th and early 20th centuries, chiffonniers – or ragpickers – were a common sight on the streets of big cities around the world. These early recyclers sifted through rubbish in search of items that could be sorted and sold to people with the means to reuse the materials. In Paris, this labour was regulated, and considered honest (if not especially glamorous) work. Today, recycling in France – and in many other industrialised countries – has been heavily mechanised but, as the short Plastic and Glass (2009) by the Dutch director Tessa Joosse demonstrates, the process still requires a human element. Tracking the recycling process at the Triselec plant in Halluin in northern France, the film plays with the rhythms of humans and machines working in tandem until the musicality of it all takes a surreal turn to the fantastical in this charming celebration.
Director: Tessa Joosse
Producer: Le Fresnoy
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