Gypsy Caravan (Mongrel, 2006) D: Jasmine Dellal, w/ Esma Redzepova, Johnny Depp. Rating: NNN; DVD package: NNN
We call them gypsies. They call themselves Rom or Romani.
Romani bands from India, Macedonia, Romania and Spain join together for a six-week Canada-U.S. tour while director Jasmine Dellal tags along with a crew that includes legendary documentarian Albert Maysles (Gimme Shelter). Along the way, the musicians explore the musical similarities that underlie their differences and work toward a finale they can all play together.
Romani music, most familiar in flamenco and the jazz of Django Reinhart, features strong rhythms, minor-key melodies and loads of passion. The performances here are great.
Between tour segments, the musicians talk a bit about their lives, episodes that are part of Dellal's project to eradicate the Roma's bad image, as is the Johnny Depp interview in the middle. There's more of that on the commentary, but mostly Dellal and her cohorts do a good job of expanding on what's in the movie and how they captured it.
EXTRAS Dellal, Maysles and sound man commentary, Depp interview, Esma Redzepova performance. Widescreen. English, French subtitles.