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IFFBoston 2012 – Spoils: Extraordinary Harvest Q&A

Posted April 23, 2012 by Max in Festivals/Conventions

Director Alex Mallis of Spoils: Extraordinary Harvest took some time last week to speak with Impassionedcinema before the IFFBoston 2012 premier.

Spoils: Extraordinary Harvest is a 20 minute documentary that captures intimate portraits of 3 New Yorker’s on a journey through the culture of dumpster diving, illuminating a practice as old as agriculture.

Max: Thanks for taking this time to talk to us today, Alex. How long have you been making films?

Alex: I got my first video camera in 5th or 6th grade. I ended up starting my Vimeo page at the end of college. In the last five years I’ve been really focused on my film career while living in New York.

Max: What made you decide to use Kickstarter for your funding?

Alex: Kickstarter was just making its name at the time. As you know, it is a New York City based Website. The word was out among filmmakers that this was a smart way to raise funds for film projects.

Max: What made you decide to cover the topic of Dumpster Diving?

Alex: I’ve been dumpster diving myself for a couple of years around the city and at that Trader Joes. What I saw was beyond my imagination. There was amazing free food that would otherwise end up at a landfill. I knew that I wanted to document this culture.

Max: Do you think your film will have an effect on the amount of waste?

Alex: I think that its something that needs to be addressed; at the very least the film should start a discussion. The blame for the waste of food isn’t entirely on the supermarkets, but also the consumers. It’s our own expectations and ability to choose that is a factor in what gets tossed out. Federal regulations lead to things being thrown out as well. It’s easy to point the finger at the store, but there are a lot more factors at play.

Max: One place is featured in the short. Are their other places that contribute just as much waste or is this venue unique?

Alex: Trader Joes’ is the one-stop shop. They separate their waste into different bags, so it’s easy to find the stuff we’re looking for. In New York City there are tons of high-grade stores with high standards. The food that makes it outside is still good since the product inside is of such high-grade.

Max: Was there a reason to avoid the background of the groups?

Alex: It’s sort of a question of how much the story was about dumpster diving or the story of the people involved. I was trying to avoid interviews with these people and just show that people from all nationalities and financial backgrounds are interested in this activity. As you can tell, I wanted the film to be fun, a heavy-handed political message about the struggles of the people involved would’ve been counter-intuitive to that vision. I understand that this a very political topic, but I wanted a broader look into the community.

Max: It’s amazing how much food is available. Are there foods that usually attributes to the most waste?

Alex: The foods that attribute to waste the most are the fruits and vegetables. It’s simply that they spoil the easiest.


Thanks to again to Director Alex Mallis for speaking with Impassionedcinema. The website for Spoils: Extraordinary Harvest can be found here: Spoils: Extraordinary Harvest premiers at IFFBoston 2012 in Shorts Package 2, on Saturday April 28th at 2:30pm.

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About the Author


Chief Editor of Impassionedcinema. A film enthusiast who studies and creates his own films. Criticizing movies is his favorite pass-time.