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Monday, September 1, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 70.0° F  Overcast
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Gypsy Caravan at the 2007 Wisconsin Film Festival
This documentary about the Roma musical tradition screened Saturday at MMoCA
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<i>Gypsy Caravan</i>
Gypsy Caravan

"Now they're still learning," a northern Indian man told to the camera in the opening scene of the documentary Gypsy Caravan.

It panned to show a group of smiley young boys, awkwardly holding instruments. Without so much as counting off, the group effortlessly creates a beautiful sound. The first chills of the film quickly followed.

Gypsy Caravan is an incredibly strong documentary -- well produced and edited -- but it is the people in the film that give it the extraordinary edge. The most amazingly adorable wrinkled old men share the stage with perfectly theatrical divas, while a troupe of chillingly talented Indian musicians makes fun of them all.

Following five bands, from four countries, for six weeks as they tour America, the documentary tells the musicians' story -- showing us their weddings as well as their funerals -- and creates a dialogue around the plight of the incredibly diverse 10 million Roma people world wide.

The musicians are not being "found" on this American tour; they are all incredibly successful in their own countries. They are, however, playing to sold-out concerts, like the film was shown to a sold-out audience, and with similar effects. Film-goers had to hold back their enthusiastic applause at the end of every concert shown in the documentary.

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