Holy shit - Can poop save the world?

Holy Shit | Credit farbfilm verleih GmbH
Holy Shit | Credit farbfilm verleih GmbH

Documentary / Rubén Abruña / Germany, Switzerland / 2023 / 85 min / German / Nominated for Science & Media Awards 23

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.

Film talk

It's one of our biggest, yet rarely discussed waste streams. Everything you need to know about the potential of human "waste" and how to close the loop.

Rubén Abruña, director, producer / Valentin Thurn, director, producer, Thurnfilm / Dr. Ariane Krause, Project coordinator, zirkulierBAR / Moderation: Dr. Patrick Hörl, Managing Director, Autentic

Rubén Abruña | Credits: Rubén Abruña

Rubén Abruña

Documentary Filmmaker
Valentin Thurn | Credit: Valentin Thurn

Valentin Thurn

Filmmaker & Producer
Dr. Ariane Krause | Credit Ariane Krause

Dr. Ariane Krause

Leibniz Institute of Vegetable and Ornamental Crops (IGZ) & NetSan e.V.