Holy Shit
Can poop save the world?

Die DVD der deutschen Fassung ist now available!

"We experience the story of a transformation. How what we all carelessly flush down the toilet every day can become something wonderful and valuable: Fertilizer.It takes 86 minutes to tell this amazing story. Not a second of it is boring. The story takes you halfway around the globe. Each stop illuminates a new facet of the subject. You get a sense of how much time went into the research."

„Der Dokumentarfilm „Holy Shit – mit Scheiße die Welt retten“ konnte gleich zwei Darßer Naturfilm-Preise abräumen: den Publikumspreis 2023 und „Bester Film Mensch und Natur“. In dem Film sucht und findet der Regisseur Rubén Abruña weltweit Lösungen auf die Frage, ob menschliche Fäkalien recycelbar sind – für mehr Ernährungssicherheit und Klimaschutz.
Das Darßer Naturfilm Festival ist die bedeutendste Veranstaltung für nationale Tier- und Naturfilmproduktionen in Deutschland.“


The Movie

A feature-length documentary film by Rubén Abruña
In coproduction with PEACOCK FILM (CH)

Kinostart am 30. November 2023
Cinema Distribution: Farbfilm, World distributor: Autlook

What happens to the food we digest after it leaves our bodies? Is it waste to be discarded or a resource to be reused? Looking for answers, director Rubén Abruña embarks on an investigative and entertaining quest through 16 cities across 4 continents.

He follows the poop trail from the long Parisian sewers to a huge wastewater treatment plant in Chicago. The presumed solution to use the semi-solid remains of the treatment process as a fertilizer proves to be a living nightmare, because they contain heavy metals and toxic PFAS chemicals.

Can excreta be used to grow food and ease the imminent fertilizer scarcity? He meets the Poop Pirates from Uganda who through work and songs teach people how to turn feces into safe fertilizer. In rural Sweden, an engineer shows him a dry toilet that makes fertilizer from urine.

In Hamburg and Geneva, he discovers residential complexes with localized treatment plants, not connected to sewers, that produce electricity and fertilizer from human excrements. In the end, the director finds answers to sustainably reuse human poop and pee that also increase global food security, environmental protection, and hygiene and mitigate climate change.



Director´s Note

In 2000 when I first sat on a dry toilet in my brother’s house in Puerto Rico, I was shocked by the lack of bad smells. Sometime later, the poop became compost which he used to fertilize his vegetable garden. In 2014, I completed “The Absent House”, a film about his house, with three compost toilets, which is off the grid. I realized that dry toilets had an unmerited bad reputation compared to flush toilets.
With an unreliable source of non-renewable phosphates needed to make fertilizers to grow food, and a water scarcity that affects two-thirds of the world’s population, using feces and urine from dry toilets to fertilize fields is a sustainable no-brainer. With these facts in hand and as an environmental filmmaker, I felt responsible to help unpack these issues; which is why I embarked on making the film “Holy Shit: Can Poop Save The World?”

I recognized that disgust would be an obstacle to attract people to the topic, but it did not discourage me because after years of research I had discovered that we are, slowly but surely, becoming more comfortable and less shy to talk about our bodies’ expulsions and the importance of recycling them. I also knew that adding humour to the story would help. Furthermore, I envisioned how the film’s characters would lead a new wave of innovative thinking that will soon become mainstream.

The waste of a living creature is the food source of other living creatures. It is the web of life, like the human nutrient cycle of grow-eat-excrete-compost and grow again. Reusing our excrement is the final frontier of recycling. But putting the poop back into the loop has vast positive consequences beyond fertilizing our fields. It entails that we can significantly reduce the use of fossil fuels, conserve drinking water, protect the environment, generate energy, save lives, and mitigate the climate crisis.
I hope that “Holy Shit: Can Poop Save The World?” will spark conversations to ignite a process of transformation where human excreta are regarded as a resource and not as waste, which in turn can help us reconnect to ecosystems and heal our planet.
– Rubén Abruña


  "HOLY SHIT" is a thoroughly entertaining documentary that does not fail to provide insight and information as well.

HOLY SHIT - a movie you simply have to see"

"His film could help, he hopes, to ensure that human waste is seen as a resource and not as waste. Watching it, you get the feeling that it works"

"Abruña asks many unbiased questions and receives many surprising answers. He thus conveys an actually unappetizing topic in a relaxed and interesting way and shows very individual ways out of the global food and climate crisis."

"A very unusual documentary"

"Holy Shit" is a flaming plea for it"

"But overall, "Holy Shit" is a good inspiration for further thought."

"Moody movie about a taboo topic"

"Rubén Abruña has given his clever and entertaining documentary, which practically takes
us around the world, the subtitle "Saving the world with shit" and demonstrates that there is definitely something to it (...)

"The film is a fiery plea for more environmentally friendly forms of waste disposal."

"Rubén Abruña's film, narrated by Christoph Maria Herbst, talks about things that are not usually talked about and shows innovative composting solutions that will be a key issue in climate protection."


  A film by Ruben Abruña 
Camera: Hajo Schomerus 
Sound: Ralf Weber
Film edit: CécileWelter
Music: Ulrich Kodjo Wendt 
Speeker: Christoph Maria Herbst   
Ausführender Produzent: Valentin Thurn
Co-producer Elena Pedrazzoli  
Editorial: Jutta Krug (WDR), Martin Kowalczyk (BR)Urs Augstburger (SRF) und Sven Wälti (SRG SSR)
Social Media: Yuna-Lee Pfau

In coproduction with Peacock Film (Zürich)
Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR)
Bayerischer Rundfunk (BR) Petra Felber 
Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen (SRF)SRG SSR    
Gefördert von: Film- und Medienstiftung NRW   
The Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media (BKM)
Deutscher Filmförderfonds (DFFF) 
Bundesamt für Kultur (BAK)
Succès passage antennes (SRG SSR)