Watch & Learn: Latcho Drom

What is Latcho Drom about?

Latcho Drom (meaning ‘safe journey’) is a French documentary film by Tony Gatlif. Made in 1993, the documentary traces the travels of the Romani people from north-west India to Spain. Crossing Egypt, Turkey, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, France and ending in Spain, the documentary follows members of the Romani community and showcases their culture, while bringing to our attention the influence of the community’s journeys on their shared musical heritage.

What stood out for us?

This is a documentary that rests heavily on the music and visuals to tell its story. Dialogue plays an almost insignificant role in this film, with very little communicated by way of conversation. With no interviews, the documentary successfully lets us observe gypsy communities while helping us understand what it is to actually share a common cultural and historical bond. The visuals and cinematography of the documentary are nothing short of stunning, transporting viewers into a world that seems so magical that it is almost impossible to imagine that it co-exists with our reality.

Why watch this?

This documentary is not about music or dance alone, but rather is a story about community, culture and change. Part history lesson, the documentary uses performances and artists as a means to communicate the impact political and socio-economic policies have had on the lives and livelihoods of communities that have not been welcomed into the folds of conventional society. Highlighting issues such as xenophobia, poverty and migration, this documentary sets the stage for a discussion on the impact of socio-political structures on cultural identities, the need for measures to preserve cultural heritage, and above all, the need to explore and clarify misunderstandings regarding a people’s culture.

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