SLAMDANCE FILM FESTIVAL 2024 REVIEW! Let’s face it. There are quirky people out there, and I want to know who they are. Like puppy or kitten videos or a car accident, it’s hard to pull your eyes away from these stories. Dustie Carter’s short film, Dumpster Archeologist, is one such documentary about one such quirky person.
Lew Blink has dubbed himself the world’s first “Dumpster Archeologist.” You can find him in the dimly lit alleys of America (mostly his hometown) and rummaging through dumpsters. Sifting through the trash, he finds artifacts of the person who threw them away, and like a hipster Indiana Jones, he pieces their lives together.
Along with showing us footage of Blink going through a dumpster, we return to his home, where 99% of everything you see was found on his expeditions. The archeologist side of him has pieced together in a scrapbook/journal the adventures of the random people in his town. One journal documents a couple’s trip to Paris. Another is an examination of a slightly-known neighbor’s former library of books.
“Sifting through the trash, he finds artifacts of the person who threw them away…”
At one point, Blink talks about the rabbit holes he finds himself going down. One such rabbit hole involved finding the diary of a high school graduate and an empty page titled “A Story in Six Words.” Blink then decides to research the former owner on social media and complete her diary with her Instagram posts.
This morbid fascination had me gripped with Dumpster Archeologist. Filmmaker Carter not only highlights Blink’s vocation but asks obvious questions (albeit with kid gloves). The most obvious question is, “Isn’t this an invasion of privacy.” The answer makes sense and still comes across as a bit suspect.
Carter marvelously tells the story of someone you’ve never heard of in Lew Blink and yet would probably want to spend an afternoon going through his life’s work. He keeps the tone light and fun for a subject that is certainly light and fun.
Dumpster Archeologist screened at the 2024 Slamdance Film Festival.
"…like a hipster Indiana Jones, he pieces their lives together."