Now banished from the Metro herself, Honigmann finds even more radically displaced musicians above ground singers from West Africa and Vietnam, a denim-clad street violinist who turns out to have deserted the Bosnian army (which drafted him from the Sarajevo symphony orchestra), and a Romanian family who work in shifts, handing off their cymbalo the way an independent cab driver might sublease his hack. The interactions are varied and surprising. Even as Honigmann discovers an Iranian master of the Armenian stand-up fiddle, demonstrating his exotic skill in an outdoor market, his performance attracts the fraternal attention of an Algerian classical clarinetist.
The Underground Orchestra
Directed by Heddy Honigmann
A First Run/Icarus Films release
At Film Forum
Through April 13
Suffused with music and punctuated by recurring shots of the Paris rooftops, The Underground Orchestra is a world-beat city symphony. It conjures up a free-floating internationale of refugee musicians. Most of Honigmann's subjects have left their homelands Argentina and Zaire, as well as the Balkans for political reasons. Paris offers what one Romanian cellist wryly calls a "kind of freedom." His son a more contemporary musician with the Guns N' Roses T-shirt to prove it demonstrates this by comparing Jimi Hendrix to Beethoven, Jim Morrison to Schubert, and AC/DC to J.S. Bach.
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