My dearest friend has been on and on about a movie that changed his life. About four weeks ago he gave me the DVD. Somehow it sat on my dining room table until this morning and, having just sent in a huge chunk of work I needed to do, I knew that it was a good time to watch it. Gypsy Caravan: When the Road Bends, is a documentary that has managed to move me in a way that has delighted me, made me so unbelievably sad, and mostly, given me total clarity about my roots.
Five gypsy bands from four different countries go on a six week tour of America, playing to sold out shows the whole way. The movie charts their travels, concerts, informal music collaborations, and also shows the band members at home, in Rajasthan India, Macedonia, Romania and Spain. It is also an informal, patchy history of the Romani, where they originated, how they travelled, and their history of persecution.
I have never understood how I love traditional Indian music, Eastern European brass band music, Middle Eastern music, Bulgarian choir music, Gypsy punk, Kletzmer and Flamenco. Well, this movie manages to not only show the connection, which is Roma, but also how the music transcends culture and language and is the height of connection.
The movie, directed by Jasmine Dellal, is absolutely beautiful. I started crying right at the very beginning, when Macedonian diva Esma came through the huge audience, singing her first notes. I cried, and laughed, and clapped along, all the way to the end, salivating with every cigarette lit (yow can they all smoke!). Every time a group or dancer took the stage I was, they’re my favourite! It really is mind blowing.
I am smiling and dancing as I write this. Big Friendly, recognizing my delight, rushed off to find me music, links, downloads and everything gypsy and music, from Hungarian country, to my favourite Gogol Bordello, to Esma herself and Turkish gypsy, and Ukranian traditional folk. I am in heaven.