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

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

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