Screened as part of NZIFF 2002

Swing 2002

Directed by Tony Gatlif

France In French with English subtitles
90 minutes 35mm

Directror, Screenplay


Claude Garnier


Monique Dartonne

Art director

Denis Mercier


Régis Leroux
Dominique Gaborieau


Mandino Reinhardt
Tchavolo Schmitt
Abdellatif Chaarani
Tony Gatlif


Oscar Copp (Max)
Lou Rech (Swing)
Tchavolo Schmitt (Miraldo)
Mandino Reinhardt (Mandino)
Abdellatif Chaarani (Khalid)
Fabiène Mai (Max’s grandmother)


Berlin 2002


The gypsy jazz guitar style popularised by Django Reinhardt is celebrated in this new film by Tony Gatlif, director of Latcho Drom, Gadjo Dilo and Vengo. After the fiery passions of Vengo, the relaxed, exuberant style and ebullient musical interludes of this film are an especially welcome treat. It’s summer in Alsace and ten-year-old Max is with his grandmother for the holidays. One day, he hears the virtuoso guitar-playing of a gypsy named Miraldo, and he is transfixed: he has discovered manouche. Like a bee to honey, Max is drawn to the wrong side of town, where the gypsies live. Undeterred by his grandmother’s warnings, he buys a guitar and convinces Miraldo to tutor him. While Miraldo teaches him music, a wild gypsy girl his own age, named Swing, teaches him to relax and enjoy being a kid before it’s too late. Max’s mother, the film’s most egregious representative of the uncool, non-Gypsy world, cell phone permanently attached to her ear, has other plans for the boy. There’s not much more to the plot than that, but the film is studded with impromptu musical parties, featuring splendid performances led by Tchavolo Schmitt and Mandino Reinhardt. Be prepared to want the soundtrack. — BG 

I’m simply trying to transmit something that is disappearing. I am trying to be a witness… I really wanted to make a film about Tchavolo Scmitt. Tchavolo fascinates me because he is not interested in fame or money! Tchavolo Schmitt is the gypsy equivalent of Tomatito, Cameron de la Isla’s guitarist. Tomatito is world famous, while Tchavolo prefers to stay in his temporary home near Strasbourg. That’s why I went to film him in his house, in his street, in his kitchen. He doesn’t have a car. He earns his living by playing in bars. Music is the liberty that inspires me when I make my films, and gives me the energy to go out and meet people throughout the world. This film could not have been made without music. — Tony Gatlif