By Rudi Lopez, M.A., Editor-in-Chief (email@example.com)
Los Angeles, CA. The Recycled Orchestra of Cateura and entourage arrived at LAX on Sunday for a week long busy schedule of events that included special screenings at the Museum of Tolerance, Laemmle Music Hall; a live morning performance at a local high school and media interviews before the premiere opening September 23, 2016 at Laemmle’s Monica Film Center in Santa Monica and Laemmle’s Pasadena Playhouse in Pasadena.
The Paraguayan musical youth group is here for a publicity tour of the documentary film Landfill Harmonic. While the story of the youth orchestra has benefited from the organic viral push of it’s trailer, that quickly catapulted them onto the global spotlight, and traveling all over the world to sold out arenas and concert venues; the amazing story is truly one of relationships, craftsmanship, genuine passion for music, and collaboration.
The story focuses on the city of Cateura, Paraguay one of South America’s poorest and poverty stricken slums next to the capital’s largest landfil. While Favio’s desire to improve environmental conditions for the families leads him to Cateura, it was his relationship with Nicolas “Cola” Gomez the carpenter and trash collector that lead to the ingenuity and innovation of musical instruments made from recycled materials found in the landfills. Gomez’s son was one of the original students learning music from Favio’s music school.
Throughout the film you see the common themes of relationships, music and collaboration. A young beautiful musician Adalita who with the support of her parents learns how to play the violin, she is a quiet leader who is loved and trusted by her fellow youth which helps reveal the struggles, desires and hopes. During the documentary you see the ingenuity and creativity of the kids who reach out to the Megadeath heavy metal band, and to their surprise one of the band members replies and comes to visit the youth in Cateura, Paraguay. This visit creates a relationship that leads to a collaboration where the Recycled Orchestra are invited to play along side with the Megadeath band at a concert, and opens the door to additional collaborations with groups like Metallica.
While the film captures the harsh realities of life and family struggles living next to the landfill, it is music that brings hope, joy and closeness to the community. The beautiful music created by the instruments of the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura from materials found in the landfill, has been heard all over the world, and continues to grow in popularity and media coverage that is sure to enhance its visibility and create more opportunities.
The success of this amazing story and youth group, would not be possible if not for the vision of founder and executive producer Alejandra Amarilla, who through a series of relationships discovered this story, began documenting the story, and eventually found her way to award-winning director Brad Allgood who heard of the story through a friend. This is truly a remarkable testament of collaboration, and genuine relationships with like minded folk whose passion for music and making a difference have created a domino affect of positive social change in Cateura, Paraguay, changed the lives of all the children involved in the youth orchestra, and have brought to the world music, but more than a display of the human spirit at it’s best.
In Spanish and English with English subtitles
Running time: 1 hour, 25 minutes
Playing: Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica; Laemmle Playhouse 7, Pasadena