Landfill Harmonic

Landfill Harmonic

Graham Townsley, Brad Allgood

US / BR / NO / PY
Film Education

A few kilometres outside Paraguay’s capital city of Asunción is one of the poorest slums in Latin America. Cateura is the capital’s municipal rubbish dump. 2,500 families live here, earning their livelihood from the landfill trash. But right next door is the music school run by Favio Chavez. In order to offer the children of the gancheros, the name for the recycling workers, a chance to escape their hopeless plight, he started giving them music lessons. But instruments are hard to find and they cost a fortune. For many local children, making music remained no more than a dream. Chavez then had a breakthrough idea: making instruments from rubbish! The first violin was made from a jerry can, an old oil barrel was turned into a cello, with the strings played with wooden spoons and the heel of a woman’s shoe. Using these »new« instruments an ambitious young orchestra was put together. Social media coverage kicked in and the orchestra found itself catapulted into the international limelight.

For five years Townsley and Allgood accompanied this extraordinary orchestra along its journey from the very first out-of-tune rehearsals in the wooden huts of Cateura to sold-out concerts at major venues all over the world. Cross-cutting back and forth between the orchestra’s globe-trotting travels to the West and the precarious life led by the children’s families back home, the two directors highlight the contrast between these two worlds. This emotional story about the transformative power of music in one of the poorest areas of the world won numerous festival audience awards and continues to tour around the world.

Awards for ›Landfill Harmonic‹ (Selection)
Audience Award – South by Southwest 2015 | Audience Award & Inspiring Lives Award – San Francisco Green Film Festival 2015 | Audience Award – Leeds International Film Festival 2015


Graham Townsley, Brad Allgood


Neil Barrett, Timothy Fabrizio, Brad Allgood


Brad Allgood


Michael A. Levine


Hidden Village Films


The Film Collaborative

Graham Townsley

A Cambridge University graduate, Townsley has directed numerous documentary films for National Geographic, the Discovery Channel and the BBC, among others. He lives and works in Washington, D.C.

Films by Graham Townsley (Selection)
Fields of Demeter 2008 | Digging the Truth (Auf der Suche nach der Wahrheit) 2005 | Dawn of the Maya 2003

Brad Allgood

He studied film and video production at the American University as well as biology and geology at the University of Georgia. After several years working in the civilian Peace Corps in Nicaragua, he began to develop campaigns for PBS, including for Downton Abbey, and making documentaries in locations such as Nicaragua and the Kalahari Desert.

Films by Brad Allgood
El Canto de Bosawas 2014 | Saving the Seaflower Conch 2010 | Wheeler 2009