"intoxicating documentary ...compelling"
- LA Times
"deserves to have its brilliant colors, lavish costumes, and vivacious musical numbers seen on the big screen"
- Village Voice
"How do you praise the magnificent? ...the most amazing Gypsy troubadours of our time... musical fire... Depth of soul and immortal passion..."
- Eugene Hutz, GOGOL BORDELLO
WHEN THE ROAD BENDS is an uplifting and moving documentary which explores the music, lives and heritage of five distinct Gypsy bands from around the world as they unite for the GYPSY CARAVAN, a six-week musical tour around North America that brings audiences to their feet.
Their musical styles range from flamenco to brass band, Romanian violin, Balkan pop, Indian folk, raga and jazz. With fire in their bellies and soul in their voices, they present the best in Gypsy music and the diversity of the Romani people in an explosion of music and dance.
"...I was thrilled and transported by it... I'm only sorry it isn't two or three times as long"
"A lyrical film, musical and road movie, in which Gypsy music escapes from its usual 'ghetto' to become a major international event."
- Karlovy Vary Film Fest
"mind-blowing... fascinating... moving... compelling... see it... see it again"
- Huffington Post
"So full of life it leaves me speechless... I'm a tough critic, but this is really one of the best films I've ever seen!"
- Albert Maysles, documentary legend (upon seeing the edited film for the first time since he shot footage for it 5 years earlier)
"It would be great if by experiencing the Romani people and their music, people can learn more about them and understand that - what you've believed about these people has been a lie your entire life."
- Johnny Depp
"...an irresistibly vibrant concert-tour documentary"
- Entertainment Weekly
The film follows the amazing performances and behind-the-scenes action of the concert tour arranged by World Music Institute, inviting us to travel with the musicians as they laugh, cry, argue, play and learn about each others' past hardships and future dreams. This moving progression of their relationships, reflected in their shared stories and jam sessions, is the backbone to the film and the tour.
As they befriend each other, they celebrate the majesty and glory of music while overcoming the prejudice of their shared ancestry. We explore the real lives of these musicians as we travel to their homes, meet their families and see what music brings to their lives a link to an ancient culture, a common language, a traditional career all of which is a stark and often painful contrast to life on the road. The personal drama and stories of these characters are interwoven with their performances, reflecting the imagery and emotion of their music, as we get to know them and their bands intimately.
From Romania we meet electrifying Taraf de Haïdouks, a band with many vocal fans all over the world, including the likes of Johnny Depp. The ages of the band members range from 22-80 and their albums and tours support much of their village. It is at home with them that we meet Nicolae, the 78-year-old patriarch who almost single-handedly supports, educates and feeds his extended family with his musical earnings.
Esma Redzepova from Macedonia, hailed as the Queen of Gypsies, has a voice full of joy, power and sadness. An institution in her own country for over 40 years, she has not only broken down many prejudicial barriers but also adopted and educated 47 children with her late husband.
Antonio El Pipa flamenco ensemble, a family troupe from Spain, is a sight to be seen - blending the power of Antonio's flamenco with the haunting sound of his aunt Juana la del Pipa's voice. We see them at their Flamenco school and discover the hardships that Juana suffered from her poor beginnings to the distress caused by her son's and husband?s drug addiction.
Originating from India, the homeland of the Romani people, Maharaja is made up of poets, singers, musicians and a very unique dancer, all from varied castes. Harish turned to dance to feed his family when his parents died, and he is one of only a few artists in the world to perform the spectacular Rajasthani knee dance.
Fanfare Ciocarlia uniquely blends brass band arrangements with traditional Romanian Gypsy music, Turkish, and Arabic influences. The speed of their playing and thrill of their sound is legendary with DJ's playing their tunes on dance floors from New York to Berlin to Tokyo. The sales of the first album enabled them to bring electricity to their hometown. Such is the power of their music.
As a grand finale, the diverse yet related musical groups come together for a last song, bringing audiences to their feet. In contrast, the death and funeral of Nicolae, as he leaves his family and fellow musicians to fend for themselves, shows that the legacy will never die.
A culture interminably misunderstood, oppressed and stigmatized, Romani history is one of suffering and misery, but it is also one of the victories of human spirit over the blows of fate. Perhaps nowhere is this spirit better personified than by the musicians featured in Jasmine Dellal's feature length documentary, WHEN THE ROAD BENDS...TALES OF A GYPSY CARAVAN.
"Jasmine Dellal is an epic story-teller who uses time and music like two added dimensions to the sweep of her rich filmic saga. This film tells the story of a people separated by every possible evil of history, yet kept together and nourished by the underground of their music. This is a documentary of the highest order, a profound and insistent work that manages to create suspense, while sounding profound depths of poetry. I cried and I grinned, simultaneously sometimes. She is a great ambassador for the Romani people and for their music. I defy either your feet or your heart to stand still while watching this movie."
- Andrei Codrescu, NPR commentator, writer
"Imbued with love and respect for her subject, Jasmine Dellal's film is a joyful celebration of a musical tradition which transcends oppression - a cry from the Romani heart, saturated with longing."
- Sally Potter, filmmaker (Orlando, The Man Who Cried, The Tango Lesson)
"You fall in love with the cast of Gypsy Caravan, their music and wit. It's a visual poem... the celebration of an amazing people."
- Nick Broomfield, filmmaker (Ghosts, Biggie & Tupac, Kurt & Courtney)