Landfill Harmonic – Humans Creatively Turn Trash into Dreams

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Trash 1 LandfillLandfill Harmonic, a heart-warming documentary film from Paraguay was presented by the Sydney City Recital Hall in association with The Possibility Project and OzHarvest.

Kim Pearce and Kath Davis founded the Sydney based enterprise The Possibility Project collaborates with slum communities in Jaipur to create a slow clothing label called slumwear108. They are dedicated to demonstrating “how ordinary people can make extraordinary choices using what they already have.”

Kim accompanied by Kath introduced the film with stirring words that celebrated the imaginative capacity of human beings. She strongly stressed the importance of focusing on ‘commonalities’ rather than differences in the ongoing determination to achieve social justice for all.

Landfill 6OzHarvest,Australia’s leading food rescue charity collects quality excess food from commercial outlets and then delivers it to more than one thousand charities. They support Australians unable to meet their basic food needs.

According to the 2016 Foodbank Hunger Report 1 in 6-experience food insecurity and sadly 33% of those receiving food relief are children.

Finding creative solutions to life’s problems is tenderly and hauntingly explored in the documentary Landfill Harmonic, where a group of children from a Paraguayan slum built on landfill, play instruments made entirely out of garbage.

Landfill 2The film opens with a simple scene of a man (Nicolas “Cola” Gomez), whom the audience later discovers rescues bits and pieces from the landfill, boiling water and shaping, moulding and crafting a musical instrument from his recycled rubbish collection.

The dawn rises and the birth of a new day symbolises the awakening of possibilities. In a community just outside the Paraguayan capital, forty thousand people live in the desperately poor neighbourhood of Cateura, Asuncion’s main rubbish dump.

It is one of South America’s largest landfills.

Landfill 5Poverty and meagre living conditions are so pronounced, “a violin is worth more than a house” according to Favio Chavez the Music Director of The Recycled Orchestra.

The movie expressively traces the journey of this visionary man as he imagines, innovates, creates and delivers transformation for an impoverished but resilient community.

This is a miraculous evolvement where Chavez’s passion for music, innate value of humanity, persist experimentation with instrument making.

He has an endless capacity for involving community; a commitment to quality and with compassionates teaching, contagious enthusiasm and with unrelenting imagination, ensures they are triumphant.

He changes children’s lives through his unwavering beliefs, deep understanding of educational theory and practice, exemplary discipline and dedication to the cathartic potency of music.

Chavez’s moment of enlightenment came about when he first played a recycled violin. An enterprising liberator he advocates ingeniously through “the world gives us trash, we give them back music.”

Landfill 1The real heroes of this unfolding narrative are the students. They respond to the originality of constructing musical instruments with a sense of awe and wonderment.

Their insightfulness about innovation and commitment to acting on it galvanizes and energizes with unique and uplifting results.

At The Recycled Orchestra’s first official performance they played Beethoven’s famous and magnificent final movement Ode to Joy from Symphony No. 9 (Choral).

The students under Chavez’s guidance stayed positive, focused and confident. They operate as a team, Chavez consistently articulating, “Our strength is our unity.”

Landfill 4The inventive use of the materials for the construction of the instruments was extraordinary. An x-ray was moulded into a drum head and an oil can was beaten, shaped and pumped to form the body of the cello and wooden spoons formed its turning pegs.

The practical exercise of problem solving and generating solutions was witnessed first-hand by the students.

Life-long attitudes and skills were integrated into everyday life encouraging diverse ideas, flexible adaptions, distinctive originality and creative refinement.

The students’ courage and optimism amid challenging adversities provoked viewers’ simultaneous reactions of tears and smiles.

Landfill 9One male student contracted mumps as a youngster and was left with severe hearing problems. He had always enjoyed beating rhythms with whatever utensil he could find.

However he was ordered to stop and this lead to depression and anxiety.

Fortunately he was determined to play the drums in The Recycled Orchestra and this was therapeutic and a freeing fulfilment.

There were many other poignant stories that communicated the buoyancy and tenacity of the human spirit.

The Recycled Orchestra grew from humble beginnings to international recognition including playing with the heavy metal band Megadeth and in the great music halls of Europe.

Landfill 7Music is an uplifting, unifying and restorative phenomenon. This group of musicians has inspired people everywhere.

Their international performances across the world have registered hope that change can come with small acts of kindness and thinking creatively to generate alternative options from within the scope of current realities.

The focus on the global issues of poverty and waste pollution has been positively explored in the documentary to highlight the actions and outcomes of altering perspectives, confronting problems and working differently within the constraints of environments.

Landfill 8The imaginative capacity of human beings is the uplifting theme that not only resonated throughout the film but is also echoed in the ground breaking enterprises of both The Possibility Project and OzHarvest.

Landfill Harmonic the movie left lingering visual and sound images that celebrated the human spirit’s capacity for good. Directors Brad Allgood and Graham Townsley have sympathetically portrayed this irresistible story that speaks so eloquently to the heart and mind.

Rose Niland, Spe3cial Feaatures NSW, The Culture Concept Circle 2017

Landfill Harmonic

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