Landfill Harmonic follows the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura, a Paraguayan musical group that plays instruments made entirely out of garbage. When their story goes viral, the orchestra is catapulted into the global spotlight. Under the guidance of idealistic music director Favio Chavez, the orchestra must navigate a strange new world of arenas and sold-out concerts. However, when a natural disaster strikes their community, Favio must find a way to keep the orchestra intact and provide a source of hope for their town.
The film makes its US debut on September 9th at the Cinema Village in New York and opens nationally in the following weeks. It will be available for download and streaming on November 8th.
The production process of the film took 6 years from its conception to its post-production completion. In October of 2008, Alejandra Amarilla contacted Juliana Penaranda-Loftus to discuss the idea of making a documentary about underserved children in Paraguay, her home country.
In April 2009, Alejandra and Juliana traveled together to start the research of potential topics with the help of Gisella Duarte, a friend of Alejandra who became the Associate producer of the film in Paraguay. On the last day of their trip, they heard the story of Favio Chavez and his efforts to teach music to the children of a landfill using instruments made from recycled trash. Alejandra picked the story right away among the stories they had found.
In 2010, Alejandra and Juliana went back to Paraguay to do the first shoot. They had frequent communications with Favio Chavez, the director of the orchestra, and went back to Paraguay every year to continue the filming process. It was during a trip in 2011 when they found the group of kids that remained as central characters in the film. They didn’t know if the kids were going to continue the music classes but they had faith in Favio, who proved to be perseverant and committed with the community and the music school project, so they took the chance.
Landfill Harmonic turned into a collaborative film work as two film directors joined the team while the story kept progressing and the production requested additional crew members. Graham Townsley joined the project in October of 2012. Brad Allgood first joined as editor in 2013 and in 2014 he directed the scenes of the third act. Because of the amounts of footage collected over the years, Brad was a fundamental player in the creative process. Alejandra and Juliana worked very closely with Brad on the structure by giving insight to keep the integrity of the story from beginning to end, as they conceived the film project from the start.