Transporting viewers to Cateura, Paraguay, a city of 2,500 families roughly seven miles south of the capital, Asución. Asución is home to two million and is capable of producing 1,500 tons of trash daily, almost all of which end up in Cateura, making Gancheros—workers that comb through the rubble looking for recyclables—a major employment opportunity. For Favio Chavez, an idealistic teacher, all this garbage might lead to something more, and he recruits craftsmen to fashion musical instruments out of the refuse. The instruments are effective and Chavez uses them to teach children to play and assembles the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura.

The Recycled Orchestra of Cateura is a hit. Their YouTube videos go viral, they go on tour, share the stage with Megadeth and bring exposure to their small town. But while music soothes the savage beast, it cannot stop the waters from rising, and Cateura is dangerously located in a flood plain. Landfill Harmonic is a hopeful but honest look at how art can be used to transcend the personal struggle.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Landfill Harmonic (2015)
Directed by Brad Allgood, Graham Townsley, Juliana Penaranda-Loftus
Produced by Juliana Penaranda-Loftus
Written by Alejandra Amarilla
Rated TV-PG, Running time 84 minutes, Premiered March 18, 2015 at the South By Southwest Film Festival

The above blurb first appeared in the pages of Boulder Weekly Vol. 23, No. 8, “Saludos amigos.”