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When the Road Bends: Tales of a Gypsy Caravan (2006)

 -  Documentary | Music  -  15 June 2007 (USA)
7.6
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 383 users   Metascore: 73/100
Reviews: 11 user | 36 critic | 13 from Metacritic.com

A brief look into Romani culture and Rom (Gypsies) from around the globe as five famous Romani groups tour the USA. The film visits their families at home in Spain, India, Macedonia and Romania.

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Title: When the Road Bends: Tales of a Gypsy Caravan (2006)

When the Road Bends: Tales of a Gypsy Caravan (2006) on IMDb 7.6/10

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Cast

Credited cast:
Fanfare Ciocarlia
Taraf de Haidouks
...
Himself
Antonio El Pipa
Maharaja
Esma Redzepova
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Storyline

A brief look into Romany culture and Rom (Gypsies) from around the globe as five famous Romany groups tour the USA. Written by havan_ironoak@bigfoot.com

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Documentary | Music

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »
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Release Date:

15 June 2007 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Gypsy Caravan  »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$13,477 (USA) (15 June 2007)

Gross:

$440,357 (USA) (7 December 2007)
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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Nicolae Neacşu: When I was a kid, 3 fates came to me. One destined this, one destined that, and the youngest asked me, "When do you want an easy life? When you are old or young?" I said, when I am old. Because when I'm young I can carry life's bitterness.
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User Reviews

 
Brilliantly crafted documentary celebrating Romani music & the musicians who play it
28 January 2007 | by (Portland, Oregon, United States) – See all my reviews

If you like Roma music (and if you don't I hope you can be reincarnated until you do; it'll be worth it) you'll love this brilliantly crafted documentary film (titled "Gypsy Caravan" in the version circulating in the U.S.). Director Jasmine Dellal and her two fine cinematographers, Alain de Halleux and Albert Maysles, go on a U.S. tour in 2002 with five of the very best Romani bands around. Their music is to die for. Here's a sketch of each group:

"Fanfare Ciocarlia" is a 12 piece brass band from Zece Prajini, a NE Romanian village near the Moldavian border. Their music, sometimes referred to as "Balkan funk," blends Romanian, Roma, Turkish, Bulgarian, Serbian and even klezmer influences. They were featured in the recent German-Turkish hit drama, "Head On," and one of their numbers closes the comedy, "Borat."

"Taraf de Haidouks" (it means band of brigands - or outlaws) hails from the Romanian village of Clejani, SW of Bucharest. The players are called lautari, meaning traditional (folk) musicians. They have played with Yehudi Menuhin and the Kronos Quartet. The actor Johnny Depp is a big fan, after working with them in the Sally Potter film, "The Man Who Died." He once flew them to his nightclub in LA and paid them $10K to perform (Depp talks about them in this film). Their leader for many years was Nicolai Neaucescu, a droll violin player who busked wherever he went. Ms. Dellal, who was present for this screening, tells a story about Nicolai when the tour was playing in Berkeley, and he went busking around town. One listener was so moved that he gave Nicolai his gold watch. I had the pleasure of seeing "Taraf" perform a few years ago at the Vancouver (B.C.) Folk Music Festival. Between gigs, Mr. Neaucescu circulated through the Jericho Beach park grounds playing for tips. In its 25 year history, no previous performer had ever busked at the VFMF. Festival staff couldn't for the life of them figure out if this was OK or not.

"Antonio El Pipa," a Gypsy Flamenco ensemble from Andalucia, Spain, is led by the dancer Antonio, who was born in Jerez de la Frontera. Performing with the group is his aunt, Tia Juana la del Pipa, whose raw, almost basso voice is as earthy as one can possibly imagine (think Tom Waits here).

"Maharaja" (formerly Musafir) is a song and dance troupe from Rajasthan in NW India. The group is influenced by diverse traditions, including north Indian folk music, Arabic and Sufi. Their star is Sayari Sapera, a gorgeous young man who performs as a dazzlingly costumed female Sufi-style dancer.

Esma Redžepova is probably the best known Rom performer in Europe. Her career spans over 40 years and 15,000 concerts, many of them benefits for her humanitarian aid projects. One of her most famous songs is featured in the recent comedy, "Borat" (she claims this was used without her permission - another among the rumored questionable dealings of the "Borat" filmmakers). Known as "Queen of the Gypsies," she hails from Skopje, Macedonia, though for most of her career she has lived in Belgrade. She sings with the Teodosievski ensemble, named for her late husband and the band's founder, Stevo Teodosievski. The couple adopted 47 boys over the years, raising them and teaching them music in particular. Esma, as she is simply known everywhere, has been nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize for her human rights work on behalf of Roma people, and she also received an award from UNICEF for her humanitarian activities.

The music these groups create is sublimely exciting, amusing, and full of attitude. In the case of the eastern European groups, there is also more than a touch of what one might regard as a sort of blues idiom. The music is one of two wondrous elements in this film. The other is the superb way in which the film itself is built. Ms. Dellal blends concert footage with scenes of the musicians at leisure or dressing for performances. The musicians delight in getting to know each other.

Ms. Dellal also visits the villages where these people come from. There are remarkable views of the musicians' homes and families, townspeople, buildings, farm animals, a camel pulling a cart through the street, countryside, you name it, in places like Jerez, Zece Prajini, rural Rajasthan and Clejani, where the indomitable Nicolai, while showing us his house, tells us he may build a pool there "like Johnny Depp's."

The photography and editing - indeed all filmic production values - are first rate. This is quite a step up for Ms. Dellal from her 1999 film, "American Gypsy: A Stranger in Everybody's Land." That film featured some interesting characters but was not nearly as well made as "Caravan." For lovers of world music and cultural diversity, "Caravan" is a film you must not miss. (In Romani, Spanish, various North Indian dialects & English) My grades: 9/10 (A) (Seen at the NWFC's Reel Music series, 01/26/07)


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