starring Oscar Copp, Lou Rech, Tchavolo Schmitt, Mandino Reinhardt
written and directed by Tony Gatlif
by Walter Chaw An infectiously good-natured and bittersweet film about the Manouche Gypsy culture in France, Tony Gatlif's musical history Swing wraps a story of first love around the story of passion for the creation of music. A dream of flight scored by a haunting Gypsy lullaby marks the centre point of the film and defines as well the feeling of eternity that marks the picture and its threads of love, music, and place. (A burial at sea consists of the axe of a guitar sent on its way in a green floss wending its way through a verdant bank.) As young Max (Oscar Copp) unravels the fingering and strum patterns of the delirious Manouche-style folk music at the foot of illiterate master Miraldo (Tchavolo Schmitt), he becomes increasingly curious about an oppressed people and how their history intersects with his own. A story of personal, artistic, and social awakening told in a pleasing, non-didactic sort of way, Swing is punctuated at several points by exuberant blasts of song erupting in closed convenience stores, streets, riversides, and cramped trailers. Swing is a tale of how we remember--of how we pass our legends and legacies on and, in a way, it's a celebration of film as at once an oral tradition and a marvellously slippery representation of truth in all its myriad incarnations.