A vibrant ethnography of the cultures, lives and stories that collide in the Balkans at the world's largest brass band festival.
Brasslands is an evocative documentary as well as a visually stunning and aurally captivating film. In the college classroom, Brasslands can be effectively employed to discuss issues of Balkan nationalism, branding, and the important role that music plays in identity politics, cross-cultural communication, and tourism. It also raises the issue of how Roma (Gypsies) are masters of brass band music yet face severe stigmatization.
Brasslands explores the explosive recent popularity of Balkan brass music through the stories of three musicians whose lives revolve around playing the music for very different reasons: a Serbian trumpet master, a virtuosic Roma street musician, and a dedicated American who isn’t from the Balkans but has been playing this music in New York for the last 30 years. Their stories all converge at the 50th anniversary of the world’s biggest trumpet competition in a hidden valley in Serbia.
Created by a unique interdisciplinary filmmaking team of Americans, Serbians, musicians and ethnomusicologists, the film offers an unconventional and unique window into ethnomusicology and Balkan culture.
Recommended by educators as an excellent teaching tool for courses in:
Slavic & Eastern European Studies
Brasslands is a facinating look at this infection and addictive form of music, so filled with life, from a country that has seen its fair share of death, sadness and war.
The film informs and raises many questions particularly about cultural and national identity against a backdrop of engaging music and wonderfully captured real-life events. Excellent for opening discussion in anthropology, ethnomusicology and related disciplines, I feel it should also be required viewing for young musicians interested in adopting the music and styles of other cultures.
Brasslands is a marvelous trip to the Woodstock of brass music, located in the open – but healing – wound that is The Balkans. A film that calls for both reflection and celebration.
Cinematic representations of Gypsies and their music have built on recurring themes such as the passionate and self-destructive infatuations, the feast-in-times-of-plague attitudes, the strikingly mature street-wise teenage protagonists, and the mistrust of outsiders. However, film Brassland shows rough realism in cinematic celebrations of freewheeling Roma and Serb brass music.
Built into some films is the urgency for a re-viewing... this film is not merely "thought-provoking" but was created primarily to induce reflection about things we usually take for granted.
A celebration of the human spirit amid adversity.