Golden Brass Summit
Fiesta Mania DVD
12 Rating, 76 mins
The Dragacevski Sabor Trubaca – better known to music fans as the Guca festival, after the town in Central Serbia where it takes place every year – has fast become a place of annual pilgrimage for festival goers in search of Europe’s best party. The legendary skills of the trumpet players, gathered from every corner of the country and beyond, is reputed to draw crowds of up to 200,000 fans every summer. For the bands, winning a prize in the festival competition – Best Orchestra and Golden Trumpet being the most hotly disputed – is the holy grail of the domestic world music scene, both in terms of reputation and career: Boban Markovic and Slobodan Salijevic are just two of the trumpet stars whose bands first found fame by winning at Guca.
Four films on this DVD show the festival, its legendary musicians and crowds in all their glory. Producer and director Ilija Stankovic is a man who knows Guca very well, having filmed at the festival for many years, and this DVD is an accompanying release to the superb double album of Guca archive recordings, Golden Brass Summit, that Stankovic produced for Network Medien back in 2002. The main film here, Fiesta Mania, is a document of Guca over the past eight years rather than a documentary film – tunes from great bands accompanying fifty four minutes of edited footage from the festival stages, streets and cafes without any narrative, explanation or interpretation. The effect is something like an anthropologist making a video clip – the music is glorious, and scenes of colourful debauchery come and go, mixing professional footage shot on cranes with amateur hand-held shots. For all his good intentions, Stankovic clearly isn’t a film-maker, and you can’t help wondering what a more experienced director and editor would have done with the wealth of material here. Occasionally brilliant live footage can’t hide the fact that Fiesta Mania is a cracking soundtrack with visuals, rather than a film: the playing is sensational, but the images are mundane, fiicking between trumpet players, dancing girls and drunken men with tedious regularity. The other three short films continue in the same frustrating vein. Great music, but as a film it’s a wasted opportunity – get Network’s fantastic double CD and yourself to the Guca festival instead.