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Brasslands (Movie) Review

 
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At A Glance...
 

Genre:
 
Length: 88 minutes
 
Release Date: June 2013
 
Final Score
 
 
 
 
 
3/ 5


User Rating
3 total ratings

 

We liked?


An inside look at Serbia's Guča trumpet festival, and the diverse bands that play there.

Not so much?


Viewers are left wanting a deeper look at the unique people and culture of Serbia.


Final Fiendish Findings?

Brasslands is an interesting film about a festival most viewers have likely never heard of. Akin to a yearly Woodstock, with national pride and blaring brass instruments as its focal point, Guča is a competition like no other

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Posted July 8, 2013 by

 
Full Fiendish Findings?
 
 

Brasslands is a documentary about Guča, an enormous trumpet festival in a tiny town in Serbia. But it is really so much more than that. It is a tale of young men trying desperately to make a living for their families with only their music – young men for whom a win at the prestigious competition will mean a year’s worth of paying gigs. It is a tale of deeply ingrained racism between the “white” trumpeters, and the “black” Roma (gypsy) players, and the struggle to win at a competition that seems to be stacked against them from the start. And finally, it is a tale of a group of New Yorkers, tied to Serbian music not by blood, tradition, or geography, but simply by a love of both the music and culture of the Serbian people.

The film follows closely the story three very different bands who will be competing at this, the fiftieth anniversary festival. All three bands have competed in the past, but this year’s event is different, because it will feature an international competition, a first in the fifty year tradition of the festival.  The first band viewers are introduced to is Zlatne Uste, the American band. None of them are Serbian in descent, but all have felt drawn to the music. Having played together for many years, they were the first American band ever to attend the festival, years ago. Brasslands follows the history of the band, their past experiences at the festival, and their hopeful voyage to this year’s competition.

Next, we meet Dejan Petrovic, a trumpet master and the reigning champion of Guča. His father was also a renowned trumpeter, and he now struggles to support a family with his talent, even though it means being away from them far more than he’d like. Being last year’s winner means a lot of pressure to take home the trophy again.

The third and final band that is profiled is that of Roma trumpeter Demiran Ćerimović. Being of gypsy descent, he is fighting an uphill battle against racism that has little to do with his music, and everything to do with the national climate in Serbia. His music comes from his heart and his culture, and the portrayal of his family and their long held traditions is one of the more interesting portions of the film.

Brasslands is an interesting film about a festival most viewers have likely never heard of. Akin to a yearly Woodstock, with national pride and blaring brass instruments as its focal point, Guča is a competition like no other. However, the fact that it is held in war ravaged yet culturally rich Serbia, and the political undertones of the relationship between the United States and Serbia, are the real shining points of the story. While I enjoyed the trumpeting and the stories behind the very different bands that competed, I found myself wishing it went even deeper into the people and traditions of the place where it was held. That, perhaps, is a story for another day.


Amy

 
U.S. Senior Editor & Deputy EIC, @averyzoe on Twitter, mother of 5, gamer, reader, wife to @macanthony, and all-around bad-ass (no, not really)