Cateura is an impoverished town in Paraguay that was built practically right on top of a landfill; there, a remarkable group of students are taking part in a youth music program, using instruments that are made from recycled discarded materials found in the landfill. The instruments they play are made from cans, barrels, reclaimed wood, steel and household objects like silverware. The unique orchestra will soon be featured in a documentary called The Landfill Harmonic, which is being produced by Alejandra Nash and Juliana Penaranda-Loftus. Hit the jump to see movie stills and a trailer for the film.
Cateura is a place, one resident explains, “where a violin costs more than a house.” But despite residents’ modest means, the Recycled Orchestra performs in classrooms as well as concert halls, executing well-known classical musical pieces.
This remarkable transformation of trash into musical treasure is currently being documented in an upcoming feature-length documentary called “Landfill Harmonic.” The film is being directed by Graham Townsley, an Emmy-nominated filmmaker who is also an anthropologist known for his 3 part PBS series Becoming Human. The film is slated for release in 2014, and it will explore the journey of The Recycled Orchestra, group of Cateura teenagers who perform the instruments made out of the landfill materials from their neighborhood. The recently-released trailer shows, among other inspiring images, a cello made from an oilcan and reclaimed wood, and a violin bridge made from a fork.