THE UNDERGROUND ORCHESTRA is a glorious documentary profile of musicians who play on the sidewalks of Paris and in the Metro. Filmmaker Heddy Honigmann (METAL AND MELANCHOLY and O AMOR NATURAL), illuminates the lives and music of a ragtag group of international bohemians: an Argentine pianist, Romanian father and son violinists, a Venezuelan harpist, and singers from Mali and Vietnam. All are united by their experiences with political repression, and by a luminous spirit and boundless courage that led them to flee any number of horrendous situations throughout the world. Finding refuge in Paris, music becomes their economic lifeline, but as this film makes movingly clear, it is also a shining metaphor for their will to survive.
"A stirring account of survival in exile. Warmly observed. During the richly diverse musical interludes, Eric Guichard's agile camera cruises the Paris streets. Taking in immigrant quarters, markets and low-rent hotels, the filmmakers casually construct a picture of the vibrantly cosmopolitan, multi- ethnic burg that draws these musical refugees."—Variety
1998 Best Film, Dutch Film Critics (KNF-Prize)
Best Ethnographic Documentary, 1998 Festival dei Popoli (Italy)
SCAM Award, 1998 Cinéma du Réel (Paris)
"(The musicians) convey the most profound portrait I've ever seen of immigration and the consequent feeling of displacement. What is more, Honigmann doesn't forget their sense of humor or the imagination that inspires one violinist to equate Beethoven to Jimi Hendrix, Schubert to Jim Morrison, and Bach to AC/DC."—International Documentary
"A kaleidoscope in sound on the streets of Paris!"—San Francisco Chronicle
"A splendid example of how illuminating and entertaining a documentary can be! A tremendously affecting film."—LA Times