Brasslands | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper


This loose-limbed doc takes viewers to a Serbian brass-band contest


Every year in a tiny village in Serbia, half a million people gather for an international musical contest between brass bands that play Balkan music. This somewhat shaggy documentary, filmed by a collaborative known as the Meerkat Media Collective, is your ticket to the show. The film tracks three competitors: last year's winner, who lives nearby; another local, a Roma, who plays in a slightly different style; and a teacher from Brooklyn. All these men play trumpets and, it seems, these instruments are the "stars" of the bands. (I wish the film had spent a little more time explaining what exactly constitutes Balkan brass music, as opposed to other brass-based acts.) The film briefly touches on more complicated issues beneath the surface, such as the lingering ill feelings from the Kosovo conflict and how closely music is (or should be) tied to national identity.

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