The astonishing variety of music made by the folks known as the Romani is spotlighted in Gypsy Caravan: When the Road Bends...
(the title references a Gypsy proverb: "You cannot walk straight when the road bends"). Such diversity isnt surprising, considering the history of these most peripatetic people, who are also known as Rom, Roma, or simply Gypsies. As writer-producer-director Jasmine Dallals film tells us, they originated in India, but began migrating a millennium ago, ending up both everywhere (primarily Europe, but scattered across the rest of the globe as well) and nowhere (Gypsies have no homeland; as one puts it, "We never went to war, never occupied any country, and never harmed anyone," and yet they are among the worlds most mistrusted and persecuted peoples). The one thing theyve always had, however, is music, and plenty of it. Originally released in 2006, the film chronicles a six-week trip on which five bands from four countries performed in New York, Toronto, San Francisco, Austin, Ann Arbor, and other North American cities. The musicians are all excellent, but several stand out. Macedonias Esma Redzepova, a force of nature known as the Queen of the Gypsies, has an amazingly supple voice and a wailing power that regularly reduces audience members to tears, while two Romanian groups, Taraf de Haidouks and Fanfare Ciocarlia, combine a mind-boggling array of sounds (the short list includes everything from polka and klezmer to country, bluegrass, and Dixieland) to wild, electrifying, and occasionally rather nutty effect; other artists include Indias Maharajah, whose show includes a young male dancer who appears in female dress and makeup, and an exciting flamenco ensemble from Spain. The documentary also takes us to their respective homelands, which adds considerably to our understanding of this fiery, soulful culture (as do the bonus features, which include uncut performances by the principals as well as off-stage turns by them and various others). A side note: one of the cinematographers is Albert Maysles, whose previous work includes Monterey Pop
and documentaries about the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and many others. --Sam Graham
An audience favorite at film festivals worldwide, GYPSY CARAVAN is a dazzling display of the musical world of the Roma, juxtaposed to the real world they live in. Five bands from four countries unite for the World Music Institute s Gypsy Caravan 6-week concert tour across North America with the musicians astounding every audience they meet. Their musical styles range from flamenco to brass band, from Romanian violin and Indian folk to Raga and jazz. And with fire in their bellies and soul in their voices, they present an explosion of song and dance that celebrates the best of Gypsy music and the diversity of the Romani people.
Shot by cinema verité icon Albert Maysles, the film takes place during the USA tour as well as on location in Macedonia, Romania, India, and Spain. The tales of these characters unfold and are woven between their performances, reflecting the imagery and emotion of the music.
GYPSY CARAVAN is a Romani celebration that will leave your toes tapping, your heart pumping, and your soul uplifted.
- Uncut performances by Esma Redzepova, Taraf de Haïdouks, Fanfare Ciocarlia and Maharaja; Photo Gallery; Extended interview with Johnny Depp; Filmmaker Biography