The Lewis Center for the Arts will present a screening of the documentary film Brasslands, which follows a New York-based band and Serbian and Roma Gypsy musicians as they perform and compete at the world’s largest trumpet festival in Guča, Serbia. The screening will be held on Thursday, October 2 at 7:00 p.m. at the James M. Stewart ’32 Theater at 185 Nassau Street. A discussion with the filmmakers and one of the American musicians featured will follow the showing of the film. This event is free and open to the public.
More than half a million musicians and fans descend on the tiny Serbian village of Guča each year for this festival of brass music. The film tells the story of the American band Zlatne Uste as it travels to the festival to represent the United States and meets the defending Serbian champions and struggling Roma Gypsies. It is an intimate and sometimes unsettling portrait of how the hopes and fears of these diverse musicians come together and transcend political and ethnic borders in the musicians’ search for common ground and musical excellence. An IndieWIRE review of the film notes, “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.” The Christian Science Monitor named the film a “Top Arts Pick” describing it as “a celebration of the human spirit amid adversity.” A New York Times review exclaims, “There is sure to be dancing in the aisles.”
The film was produced by Meerkat Media Collective, a New York-based, self-organized community of filmmakers committed to creating artful and thought-provoking films through a non-hierarchical collaborative process. Over the past eight years, the Collective has produced two independent feature documentaries, a narrative feature, and over a dozen award-winning short films that have screened around the world. The Collective members behind Brasslands have worked on Oscar-nominated documentaries, premiered work at the Sundance Film Festival, and broadcast on HBO, PBS, and ESPN. Brasslands’ directing team includes Adam Pogoff, Alison Brockhouse, Bryan Chang, Dara Messinger, Eric Phillips-Horst, Jay Arthur Sterrenberg, Jeff Sterrenberg, Karim Tabbaa, Sara Huneke, and Zara Serabian-Arthur.
The discussion following the film will be facilitated by Margaret Beissinger, a Research Scholar and Lecturer in Princeton’s Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, and will include filmmakers Pogoff and Chang from the Collective, as well as musician Matt Smith, who plays baritone in the band Zlatne Uste featured in the film. The screening and discussion are being organized by Elise Bonner, a doctoral candidate in Princeton’s Department of Music.