Segments in this Video

Canning to Survive (02:43)


In New York, empty cans and bottles can be redeemed for 5 cents. For unemployed New Yorkers, canning is a growing profession. Walter, a 60-year-old veteran, has been collecting cans for 10 years.

Cans Equal Money (01:55)

Walter calculates everyday items in terms of cans. One cup of coffee is 50 cans. Walter finds a place to sleep on a bench, where the police will not bother him.

Elderly and Unemployed (02:00)

Susan, a former Microsoft employee, is unable to survive on social security alone and resorts to canning. For her, canning is survival of the fittest

Redemption Center (04:15)

Susan travels to a supermarket redemption center and explains the "Bottle Bill of Rights." She fights with another canner over territory.

Canning Community (04:20)

Jamie asks another canner how he got started in the business, and talks with a husband and wife team from Guatemala who are supporting eight children.

Chinatown Redemption Center (03:45)

John, a former World Trade Center employee, emigrated from Japan. He worked with computers, but lost employment after the 9/11 attacks. Hassan helps Lilly redeem so she can rest.

Immigrant Workers Hit the Streets (02:58)

Lilly explains how she met Hassan. If she had not immigrated to the United States, she would be raising pigs and chickens in China.

Unlikely Friendship (03:46)

Lilly cans through the night without sleep. She lives in a one bedroom apartment with seven people. Lilly cuts John's hair and helps him shave, but they do not speak each-other's language.

Family Support (04:26)

Nuve, a single mother of three, goes canning to make the best future for her children. Her youngest, not yet in school, watches her work. As the oldest, she must help her entire family.

Canning Life (02:12)

For Walter, Susan, Lilly, John, Jamie, and Nuve, canning is a way of survival, but the hard work and near starvation takes its toll.

Credits: Redemption (01:31)

Credits: Redemption

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Redemption follows a cast of characters from the five boroughs of NYC as they scrape together a living – five cents at a time. Emmy®-winning filmmakers Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill followed several men and women over the course of a year, providing a poignant glimpse into the daily lives and struggles of those who scavenge the city’s garbage cans and recycling bins. The subjects’ previous occupations – short-order cooks, computer-sales executives, factory workers – all fell victim to an evaporation of jobs, as businesses and restaurants closed in the rocky years since the economic downturn. This 36-minute documentary short highlights the sense of community among the canners, many of whom have spent a decade working beside each other on the sidewalks, shunned by most New Yorkers and underserved by social services. But as more people turn to canning, the search to collect enough bottles and cans to survive grows more difficult. Despite the numbing work and long hours, they maintain their pride, insisting “It’s honorable work, no matter what people say.” As for the nontraditional livelihoods of their subjects, Alpert and O’Neill prove in this series of intimate portraits that one man’s trash is truly another’s treasure. An HBO Production. 

Length: 36 minutes

Item#: BVL115026

Copyright date: ©2013

Closed Captioned

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Only available in USA and Canada.