Release year: 2011
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God's Children is a graphic and disturbing documentary about the impoverished residents of Payatas, a huge garbage dump just outside the city of Manila. Japanese filmmaker Hiroshi Shinomiya made an earlier film, Scavengers, about Payatas, and returned there several years later for another look.
The production was slowed early on by a typhoon, and shortly after filming started, one of the two mountains of garbage that comprise the dump collapsed, destroying makeshift homes and killing as many as 1,000 residents. Shinomiya shows the hapless rescue workers pulling the dead from under all the mud and debris.
Families mourning the loss of loved ones are also shown. As a result of the collapse, the Philippine government halts garbage deliveries to the Payatas for safety reasons. This makes life even more difficult for those that remain, as they make their living scavenging.
The residents deal with their loss of income as well as they can, and many protest to demand the restoration of the garbage dumping. Shinomiya focuses predominantly on three families, each of which faces their own crises. One family has a little boy, Alex, with hydrocephalus, which renders him an invalid.
Another couple is expecting the birth of their second child, and the father cannot find work. The third family is slightly better off, as they have two small pigs, and are also able to eat yams from a relative's plants. As their situation worsens, the families desperately hope for change.
God's Children was selected for the 2002 New Directors/New Films Festival in New York.