A DIFFERENT LOOK
Documentaries about people and their worlds
A film by Rubén Abruña
In Co-production with Peacock Film (CH)
A real nutrient cycle is only possible if we start fertilizing fields with our faeces again. "Holy Shit" breaks the silence around this topic and shows solutions for the world’s food supplies and climate change.
"Because you are earth and shall become earth".
When the sewage system was built in the 19th century, it was seen as a blessing. Contaminated drinking water and epidemics had suddenly become a thing of the past – at least in the western world. However, this also eliminated the millennia-old tradition of using our excrements as fertilizer. Once there was the nutrient cycle: from food growth to consumption, excretion, composting and, finally, fertilization. This cycle was broken with modern toilets. The water toilet disposes of our excrement as waste, while more and more mineral fertilizers have to be used in agriculture, whose supplies will be exhausted within this century.
Rubén Abruña investigates why we established this system. He not only takes us on a tour to explore the famous Paris sewer system, but also huge sewage sludge basins in New York. The alleged solution of using sewage sludge as fertilizer has proven to be a toxic disaster. He is looking for technical alternatives.
The eco machine from Dr. John Todd uses the sun to turn sewage sludge (Klärschlamm) into non-toxic compost soil. The “Poo Pirates” in Uganda teach villagers how to produce fertilizers with inexpensive dry toilets and how to prevent epidemics at the same. In Sweden, Carl Lindström is working on a modern dry toilet, and in Geneva and Hamburg, entire residential complexes and neighborhoods already have their own toilet circuit and thus produce their own electricity and fertilizer.
HOLY SHIT shows that an open discussion about our excrements, feces, shit, poop is long overdue. Because you can only find solutions if you talk about it. In his search, Rubén Abruña meets people who give him answers on how we can deal with the challenges of world food, environmental protection, hygiene and global warming.
Commissioning Editors: Jutta Krug (WDR), Martin Kowalczyk (BR) und Axel Arnö (SVT)