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“A Fistful of Rubbish”: a new Western documentary set in the Tabernas

"A Pile of Garbage": A new Western documentary with Tabernas as the background.

A Fistful of Rubbish is a short documentary about the cleanup campaign in the Tabernas Desert in southern Spain. Tabernas is the only desert in Europe; its landscape is unique, and when it is not very hot, it is easy to see how its magic of rocky twists, jagged outcrops and dusty corners attracts people from all over the world.

In the 1960s, it began to be used as a filming location for Sergio Leone's famous western pasta trilogy-a handful of dollars, a few more dollars, and good, bad and ugly. Some movie scenes still exist, and people are proud of the rich history of this area in popular culture. Unfortunately, this sense of pride does not always extend to the countryside itself. Many people do not care about this unique environment, but choose to dump household garbage, construction materials, and all kinds of garbage.

But now, with the help of some locals, a new cowboy in the town is trying to change this situation. David Regos and his team are shooting a new documentary. Through interviews and a mix of Western style film photography/music, they told us the story of the cleanup movement that took place in the desert.

We interviewed David Regos to learn more about this inspiring project!

Hi David, can you tell us when you discovered the Tabenas Desert? How did you think of making this documentary?

After moving to Spain in 2016, I began to study the environmental issues facing the country. Eventually I saw an article about a British man trying to clean up a rubbish-laden place in the southern Spanish desert, where they filmed the famous Italian western film. When I found that the original old movie set was still there, very close to the garbage dump, I decided to try to make a grassroots environment film and blend it with the style elements of the classic Western film. It would be very interesting. It was shot there.

As for you, what makes you fall into environmental problems, plastic pollution and waste?

Before moving to Spain, I lived in the United States and I made an environmental documentary called "The Concord". This film tells the story of an 84-year-old grandmother in a small town who performed a three-year mission to ban disposable bottled water in her town. Before starting this project, I knew very little about plastic pollution or waste issues. Director Kris Kaczor asked me if I wanted to be involved, which sounds like a groundbreaking historical story. The more we shoot, the more I understand the problems of disposable plastics and bottled water-from production to extraction to disposal. This experience showed me the power of local activism and the ability of the community to act for what they believe in. I met some great people, not only during the entire production process, but also at the film festival, they realized that the power of storytelling became important for saving the planet. I decided to continue to be a part of this inspiring world.

Can you give us an overview of the waste crisis in the desert? In your opinion, what turned the famous desert in Sergio Leone's classic movie into a garbage dump?

We know that the world is sick and all creations are suffering

Antonio (Priest)

La Rambla, a dry river bed used as roads and trails around the desert, has always been a popular place for dumping various items such as refrigerators, mattresses and building materials. Some rusty old jars seem to have existed for decades. Some glass bottles have been deformed for many years in the sun. According to locals, in the past, it was mainly limited to organic matter, and a small amount would decompose. But it seems that the old way has not progressed, and the area is regarded by many as a landfill. For some people, they don’t want to pay for collecting or properly disposing of large amounts of garbage. For others, it's just a lack of education-maybe they don't know where to dump trash. They saw others dump it in the desert, and they did the same. Over time, it has accumulated and has not been properly resolved. In general, this is a lack of awareness and respect for natural space.

What do you think are the main challenges in actually reducing waste in the Tabernas Desert?

The main challenge is to change people's consciousness, not only in Tabenas, but everywhere. It is also challenging for authorities at all levels to take this matter more seriously, act quickly, and devote more resources to clean-up campaigns, education, and policing. If it is not regarded as such a big problem, then not much measures will be taken to solve it. In addition, first of all, we need to pay more attention to reducing waste and follow the slogan of "reject, reduce, reuse, recycle"-proceed in order. More steps are needed to encourage this behavior change.

Someone must do something, so why not me?

Julian Phillips (Cleanup Hero)

How is the local community and city government reacting to your ongoing activities? What are the main obstacles you encounter?

When Julian Phillips started the campaign, it didn't arouse much enthusiasm. For some of the cleanup work, Mayor Tabernas helped by providing containers and cleaning resources. Julian established an official non-profit organization (P3 Ambiental) and applied for assistance from the military government, but so far received almost no support. Fortunately, some people living in the area realized that there was a problem and volunteered to participate in the cleanup. But the obstacle is still not enough people care or think that this is such a big problem. No one was caught and fined. There is not much sense of urgency about environmental degradation.After launching a crowdfunding campaign to complete the movie, we got most of the support, but some people claimed that the problem was exaggerated. They said that most of the desert is clean. Logically speaking, there is no rubbish where there is no one. Indeed, with the efforts of volunteers, the situation may improve slightly. Julian and his team cleaned up more than 52 tons of garbage. But a recent report by El Diario del Almeria indicated that there is still a large amount of rubbish scattered, some of which have been dormant for many years.

"The best way to describe a cowboy is mud, blood, and glory"...not a waste! However, in the trailer, we see cowboys fighting against waste. How does your documentary really become a "cowboy" and help solve Tabenas' waste problem?

Cowboys are outsiders, heroes who enter new places and change things a little bit. This is a person who is willing to fight for his beliefs. They are brave and fearless, face challenges and overcome obstacles. They fought the enemy in order to maintain justice and justice. Sometimes, cowboys have an ally or team that believes in their mission. Indeed, the analogy of this movie is that when things are bad, actions can be taken to make right triumph over mistakes. The cowboy and his allies will bring peace to this land and people. This film can make people aware of the problems of waste and disrespect for nature, and pave the way for raising awareness of this unique environment.

The goal is to raise awareness and encourage solutions that reveal problems deeper than bottles and jars, broken TVs, and mattresses lying on the surface. The goal is to make people care about, remember and respect everything that nature provides for all life on this planet. The waste problem is obvious all over the world, and bleak environmental stories are also common. However, the more people see the power of local activism, the more people can be encouraged to participate in the solution.

When will the movie be released, and what will the future of Eco-Cowboy look like?

The film will start its film festival later this year, and then it will be released in 2020. For environmentally friendly cowboys all over the world, the future is bright. Julian said he would not stop until there was no more rubbish in the desert. But he needs help and resources.

Want to know more about this documentary? Look at the website

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