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'Black Sheep,' 'Gypsy Caravan' high-quality films

 

Last updated 7/19/2007 at Noon



“Black Sheep” and “Gypsy Caravan” are high-quality films that were made on a low budget compared to Hollywood movies.

“Black Sheep,” made by the New Zealand Film Association, uses animatronics to the max. With 40 million sheep and four million people in New Zealand, just about everyone except the aromatherapy, feng-shui, chakra-grounding girl Experience (Danielle Mason) turns into sheep. These are not the genetic-engineered Dudley sheep Angus Olefield (Peter Feeney) set out to breed but man-eating morphic sheep which turn into human sheep with hooves and fleece.

Experience helps Angus’ younger brother Henry (Nathan Meister) overcome his panic attacks that break out anytime he’s around sheep. Henry’s disorder started 15 years earlier when the high and mighty maniac Angus killed Henry’s pet sheep, then slaughtered it and wore its bloody hide.

This movie is pretty crazy, but there’s more. Experience and Henry go down in the offal pit, a place where every type of disgusting refuse is placed on a sheep ranch, and she lights a geranium-scented candle so they can become grounded while the man-eating sheep are at their heels. Grant (Oliver Driver), Experience’s boyfriend, is somewhere on the ranch, biting Angus and eating little bunnies even though both are animal activists who have come to stop the genetic engineering.

Everything returns to normal with a lighter thrown into the infected herd because of the combination of fleece – very flammable – and methane gas, compliments of the sheep.

Go from New Zealand to the gypsies in “Gypsy Caravan,” a tour set up by the World Institute of Music to promote these incredible musicians. The Little Dust Film Company wove a beautiful story into this six-week tour. The music and filming are of such high quality it begs to last longer. The Roma, who are gypsies, originally came from India and spread on a “thousand-year journey” to the Eastern bloc countries.

Taraf de Haidouks comes from a tiny village in Romania where the money from their tours goes to feed the village. Nicolai, the aging violin player, dies during the tour and his funeral is very moving in the film. Their music is so moving, way beyond fusion; the funeral becomes a celebration of feelings.

The way they live is so simple: still using horse-drawn carts, slaughtering their own chickens and drinking from the village well. This way of life can still be seen taking the train from Belgrade, Yugoslavia, to Athens, Greece. The film returns to the tour in America and then goes to each gypsy’s hometown in Macedonia, Spain and India. The Indian group Maharaja says, “Music is God’s greatest gift,” and it also makes lots of money, putting them in the caste of dancers and musicians.

Antonio El Pipa Flamenco Ensemble are seriously passionate about flamenco. Antonio’s Aunt Juana is illiterate, so her movements and singing are overcomingly heartfelt. They are all proud to be gypsies; as Antonio says, “Gypsies have been marginalized and persecuted by others for centuries as thieves and murderers.”

Maybe it is the penchant for wearing gold jewelry yet wanting to live a simple life that called suspicion to them. Whatever the cause, “Gypsy Caravan” demystifies the stereotypical gypsy and emerges with incredible masters of music who bring out the “duende,” sadness and laughter simultaneously, of the world.

The gypsy saying is “You cannot walk a straight line when there is a bend in the road.” And so it is. These were great movies.

 

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