The Underground Orchestra

  • 1998
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Documentary

The term "underground music" takes on a new and quite literal meaning in this thoughtful look at the itinerant street musicians of Paris, who regularly turn the city's public spaces -- particularly the Metro -- into their own concert halls. Dutch documentarian Heddy Honigmann takes her camera to the city's bustling streets and subways to capture a dazzling...read more

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The term "underground music" takes on a new and quite literal meaning in this thoughtful look at the itinerant street musicians of Paris, who regularly turn the city's public spaces -- particularly the Metro -- into their own concert halls. Dutch documentarian

Heddy Honigmann takes her camera to the city's bustling streets and subways to capture a dazzling variety of musicians who earn their bread by performing for spare change. But these are no ordinary panhandlers: Many of them are top-notch talents, and nearly all are refugees who have escaped

dangerous situations in their homelands and have found asylum of one kind or another in the City of Lights. Among those profiled are Dragan, a violinist and deserter from the Bosnian army who left his friends, family and position in the National Opera behind in war-torn Sarajevo to pass the hat in

the Metro; Assitan Keita, a West African singer who came to Paris to escape the rampant unemployment back home but, without papers, is forced to pay an exorbitant rent and lives in constant fear of being deported; and an Argentine pianist, one of his country's countless "disappeared ones" who

recounts his harrowing torture by thugs who once threatened to saw off his hands. Honigmann uses the lives of these musicians to explore the conditions and emotional effects of exile in much the same way she used profiles of taxi drivers in Lima, Peru to gain insight into issues of Peruvian

national identity in her 1993 film METAL AND MELANCHOLY. What emerges from her interviews, Erich Guichard's crisp photography and some terrific music isn't so much a celebration of Paris multiculturalism -- although the enrichment of Parisian culture through immigration is certainly apparent -- as

a poignant portrait of essentially isolated people who, in all likelihood, won't be going home again. (In French and Spanish, with English subtitles.)

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  • Released: 1998
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: The term "underground music" takes on a new and quite literal meaning in this thoughtful look at the itinerant street musicians of Paris, who regularly turn the city's public spaces -- particularly the Metro -- into their own concert halls. Dutch documenta… (more)
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