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Every so often I come across a project or a maker that stops me in my tracks and fills me with wonder and a reaffirmation of the power of making. Landfill Harmonic is one such project. The soon-to-be-released documentary tells the story of the people of Cateura, Paraguay, a barrio built on a landfill where residents eke out a living recycling and selling trash. But a local youth orchestra also makes beautiful music from instruments made from that same trash. If the trailer is any indication, the film looks fantastic. I got chills at 0:51 when the kid with the oil-can cello begins to play. Have a look.

Landfill Harmonic film teaser from Landfill Harmonic on Vimeo.

Stett Holbrook

Stett Holbrook

Stett Holbrook is editor of the Bohemian, an alternative weekly in Santa Rosa, California. He is a former senior editor at Maker Media.

He is also the co-creator of Food Forward, a documentary TV series for PBS about the innovators and pioneers changing our food system.

  • chuck

    That was awesome! I make instruments also and I use mostly recycled and repurposed materials. It amazes me to see beauty come from trash. We throw away wonderful things every day- we just don’t see it. Recycling doesn’t stop at the plastic bin on your curb.

  • Jack

    They sure have beautiful new-looking cases to carry those recycled trash instruments. I question how real this is…

    • ronnie

      I’d imagine the instruments are real, but there’s definitely something going on that’s not being explained about that. I see a lot of brass rods, mouthpieces, bows, brass instruments, and other stuff that seem to be of fine finished quality mixed with parts like bottle tops and barely hammered into shape stringed instruments. There may well be a charity furnishing some of the materials and cases, etc… and the ingenuity is very nice, but I agree there’s an untold side to this story.

  • Conq.

    How useful has shown that it makes a lot of old beatiful materials.