In New Documentary, 'Recycled Orchestra' Makes Instruments from Trash

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“Landfill Harmonic,” an upcoming documentary scheduled for release in 2014, tells the story of an orchestra whose musicians play instruments made from trash. The film is set in the town of Cateura, Paraguay, which is built on a landfill. Many of the town’s residents collect trash to recycle and sell for money, and many of the town’s children are susceptible to getting involved with gangs or drugs . A music program was set up to help keep the kids out of trouble, but because so many of them were interested, there was soon a shortage of instruments.

“A violin is worth more than a house here,” Favio Chavez, the orchestra’s music teacher, says in the film. After the shell of a violin was found in the landfill, Chavez and the orchestra director, Luis Szaran, began including instruments made from trash in their orchestra. The instruments are made by Nicolas Gomez, a local trash-picker.

In the trailer, a teenager named Juan Manuel Chavez plays a cello made from an oil can and wood found in the landfill. Other children play violins made from trash. “When I listen to the sound of a violin, I feel butterflies in my stomach,” says one violinist.

“‘Landfill Harmonic’ is a film about people transforming trash into music; about love, courage and creativity,” states the documentary’s trailer, which has recently gone viral. Its popularity suggests the film’s story is resonating with people.

To learn more, visit the film’s website or Facebook page.

Homepage Image: Landfill Harmonic

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