On Thursday, October 2, the Lewis Center will present a screening of the film Brasslands, the “Best of Fest” Winner at the 2013 Minneapolis St. Paul Film Festival. Lecturer in Slavic Languages and Literatures Margaret Beissinger will facilitate a post-screening conversation with filmmakers Adam Pogoff and Bryan Chang, as well as Zlatne Uste musician Matt Smith. The screening will begin at 7:00 p.m. in the James M. Stewart ’32 Theater at 185 Nassau Street. Both the screening and the talkback are free and open to the public.

A tiny Serbian village explodes with brass cacophony and riotous celebration as more than half a million music fans descend upon Guča, the world’s largest trumpet competition. Amidst a cast of defending Serbian champions and struggling Roma Gypsies, an unlikely brass band from New York City, Zlatne Uste, voyages to represent the United States only a decade after NATO bombs rocked Belgrade. They will be the first Americans ever to compete at Guča. Brasslands offers an intimate and sometimes unsettling portrait of how the hopes and fears of this diverse group of characters collide in their search for common ground and musical ecstasy.


From the Critics

Brasslands is a fascinating look at this infectious and addictive form of music, so filled with life from a country that has seen its fair share of death, sadness and war.”  —IndieWIRE, Katie Walsh

“There is sure to be dancing in the aisles”  —New York Times, Anne Mancuso

“A celebration of the human spirit amid adversity”  —Christian Science Monitor, ‘Top Arts Pick’

Talkback Participants

Margaret H. Beissinger teaches at Princeton University in the Department of Slavic Languages & Literatures, where she offers courses on Romani as well as Balkan culture, including oral traditions and languages. Her research centers on how the post-communist period has shaped the lives of traditional Romani musicians in southern Romania and the genres that they perform, including the pan-Balkan “Oriental” song-dance genre manele. She has published widely on expressive culture in the Balkans and is currently preparing a monograph on Romani musicians in contemporary south-central Romania as well as co-editing a volume of essays on manele.

Matt Smith plays baritona truba and trombone in the band Zlatne Uste featured in the film.

Adam Pogoff is a New York-based documentary filmmaker. He holds a Bachelors of Arts in ethnomusicology from Brown University where he studied Balkan and Romani (“Gypsy”) music and culture. Adam has traveled on assignment in India, Japan and throughout the Balkans producing public radio features and collecting field recordings. Adam produced the Brasslands soundtrack available on the Evergreene Music record label, and has been a member of the Meerkat Media Collective since 2009.

Bryan Chang is an independent documentary filmmaker and editor whose films have been featured in The New York Times, TIME Magazine, Sundance Film Festival, MoMA, and in film festivals worldwide. He is the director of the feature documentary Brasslands, editor on the award-winning Narco Cultura, and has worked in post-production at The Onion News Network and The Discovery Channel. He is a member-owner of Meerkat Media, a filmmaker collective and documentary production company, and is a regular guest instructor in visual storytelling at the NYU Journalism Institute.

Event Archive

View or download event materials: Poster | Press Release

Presented By

  • Program in Visual Arts