Landfill Harmonic (US/Nor/Bra/Pgy) (site)
Many documentaries exist that highlight the struggling fortunes of poor communities in second and third world countries, often with images of stinking, steaming piles of rubbish tended over with men, women and children picking through the bits before the gulls can take the edible bits away. Often such films use this imagery as a backdrop to make some greater point. This is one film that attempts to add a bit of depth to some of the people of these villages, and highlight something special and unique to come out of one of them.
Paraguay doesn't promise the best start in life for many of it's children, some of which live in shanty districts around landfill sites. One such site in Cateura was visited one day by Favio, an environmental surveyor who felt an urge to do something about the apparently hopeless situation the kids find themselves in. Being a bit handy with an instrument and with a little cash, he was able to set up a small, free school where some of the local children could come and learn to play. As popularity grew and new instruments dried up, Favio happened upon Cola, a kindly sole from the rubbish dumps that could turn his hand to make anything. The Landfill Orchestra was born.
This low-key but heart-warming documentary tells the unlikely story of their rise to fame as their popularity grew. Growing from a handful of young girls screeching out something barely recognisable on early prototypes to full-on duets with Megadeth on tour, they showed that everyone with the right encouragement and a bit of lucky opportunity could touch the sky. Go to their website if you'd like to learn more. 8/10
The Club (Chile) (wiki)
Superficially, this sounded a little bit like a Chilean Father Ted, with its premise of four disgraced priests holed up in a remote house, where the arrival of a fifth brings all sorts of krazy shenanigans. Beyond a vaguely Jack Hackett-esque elderly priest (although far less violent) this is far less comedic and a whole lot more uncomfortable.
It seems like the director set himself a challenge to make a film where the most unpalatable examples of society could be centre stage to a film and not be completely reviled throughout. Four men and their female carer, each with their own reasons for ending up there live a lonely but manageable existence, moved silently away from their tarnished flocks to save the face of the Catholic church. Despite their sordid past, the details of which are only lightly touched upon, these men are portrayed as human; caring, loving, even enjoying life in their unlikely idyll, as if set free from the ties of the institution that likely contributed to their predicament. Unfortunately, their peace is broken when the church dumps a fifth body on them, and with it the drunken, shambling form of a stalker; a broken soul who somehow followed this new entrant from afar looking for answers.
The Club was uncomfortable to watch; within it are graphical descriptions of priestly transgressions, likely adapted from the many real-life accounts which occasionally grace our newsreels. Those looking for a sympathetic view of how the Catholic Church handles such problems are out of luck; it portrays the body much as an unfeeling monolith, dumping it's problem children where few can see and forgetting about them until they start to cause trouble. Rather, the film at least attempts to put a human face on the transgressors, whilst not neglecting to show the damage they cause to the people they are meant to serve.
There were elements within the film that didn't quite flow right, and a few loose ends along the way that I guess were forgotten about in the cut, but it gave a daring perspective on a taboo subject rarely tackled in film, and told with a hint of blunt, dark humour. 7.5/10