SXSW Film Review: Landfill Harmonic

Trash transforms to sweet music

Like recycled garbage used to create symphonic-quality musical instruments, Brad Allgood and Graham Townsley Landfill Harmonic is a secret treasure. What seems a competent document about survival amidst environmental devastation is actually a story of the dull throb of existence gleefully recalibrated by the thundering heartbeat of music.

Cateura, Paraguay, is a small village located next to Latin America's largest landfill, where gancheros sustain by picking and reselling trash and children play in garbage heaps, where a violin costs more than a house. Out of this squalor, a garbage-picker-turned-luthier (who resurrects oil canisters into cellos and X-ray film into drum heads), a soft-spoken music teacher, and a group of kids find each other. Through simple acts of kindness and shared love of music, they are cast on a whirlwind trajectory taking them to places and heights never imagined.

Like buds of spring awakening from dormancy, the teens lives are utterly transformed by what their roles in Recycled Instruments Orchestra of Cateura offer – from first plane rides and trips to the beach to playing a gig with Megadeth (!).

As music teacher Favio says, "The world sends us garbage, we send back music.” The world offers broken dreams and these kids in turn give back so much more than life recycled. In our culture of relative opulence, can we possibly recognize its worth?

The Recycled Instrument Orchestra of Cateura performs Saturday, March 21, 8:30pm, at the Victorian Room at the Driskill (604 Brazos St.); music, platinum, or gold badge required; venue age policy is 21+.


Landfill Harmonic

24 Beats Per Second
Friday, March 20, 4:15pm, Alamo Lamar
Saturday, March 21, 11am, Alamo Ritz


Keep up with all our SXSW Film coverage at austinchronicle.com/sxsw/film.

Keep up with all our SXSW coverage at austinchronicle.com/sxsw.

READ MORE
More SXSW Film
Unleashing the <i>Hounds of Love</i>
Unleashing the Hounds of Love
Director Ben Young on his serial-killer couple drama

Richard Whittaker, May 12, 2017

Ben Wheatley  Catches <i>Free Fire</i>
Ben Wheatley Catches Free Fire
Director on making his U.S. action debut

Richard Whittaker, April 21, 2017

More SXSW
Ta-Nehisi Coates for SXSW 2018
Ta-Nehisi Coates for SXSW 2018
Plus Teen Vogue, The Daily Show, and Charlie Rose

Richard Whittaker, Aug. 30, 2017

<i>Moonlight</i> Director Returns to SXSW
Moonlight Director Returns to SXSW
Oscar-winner Barry Jenkins part of first speaker list for 2018

Richard Whittaker, July 24, 2017

More by Kate X Messer
The Gay Place: It's Aliiive!
It's Aliiive!
You can't keep a Gay Place down; just ask Sarah Marloff

Jan. 20, 2016

Gay Place: I'm Not Gonna Miss You
Gay Place: I'm Not Gonna Miss You
K(X) THX BYE

Jan. 15, 2016

KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

SXSW Film, SXSW, SXSW Film 2015, Landfill Harmonic, Recycled Instrument Orchestra of Cateura, Brad Allgood, Graham Townsley

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2017

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)