“A Gypsy’s life is a life of anarchy.” Paco de Lucia

The mysterious pull of an old Spanish Romani art on a group of contemporary musicians in Los Angeles is the essence of the documentary KUMPANIA. 

These artists love flamenco and are devoted to keeping it alive in the city.

“It’s incredibly beautiful,” says Bruce Bisenz of the art form. The retired Hollywood sound mixer (“Purple Rain”) and flamenco aficionado has photographed the artists for years, capturing their most poetic moments onstage. “For people who don’t know flamenco, I’m sorry for them.” Bisenz says. His commitment to the art’s survival is part of the story of Kumpania.

Bruce Bisenz

Flamenco’s genesis is the music of outcasts in Southern Spain hiding from extreme forces of prejudice.  Hundreds of years later in Los Angeles, the artists of Kumpania reach back in time to summon the gods and demons of the original flamencos.

KUMPANIA  – a Romani word meaning “people who travel the same territory” – follows one collective of artists whose paths intersect much like the freeways they drive from homes in Long Beach, Downey, Moreno Valley, Burbank, Woodland Hills, North Hollywood and Santa Barbara to perform with each other all over Los Angeles.

Featuring Antonio De Jerez, Vanessa Acosta-Albalos, Mizuho Sato, Briseyda Zarate Fernandez, Jose Tanaka, Antonio Triana II, Gerardo Morales, Kai Narezo, Joey Heredia, Timo Nunez, Manuel Gutierrez (De La Cruz), Paloma Rios and Gabriel Lautaro Osuna. 

“Convivencia” was that time in Medieval Spain under Moorish rule when people of all backgrounds including Muslims, Christians and Jews co-existed with the Romani in harmony more than less. All their music with the music and culture of the Spaniards influenced the origin of flamenco.

In 21st Century Los Angeles, people of Spanish, Mexican, Caucasian, Romani, and Japanese background work together to further this art they cannot live without.

“When we love something, we love until we die” – Mizuho Sato
Photographed at The Fountain Theatre, Los Angeles
Photograph ©2010 Bruce Bisenz

Directed by Katina Dunn.  Cinematography by Avi Cohen.  Film Editing by Noah Berlow. Cohen and Berlow worked on the documentary “Journey To Avalon,” an independent project starring Sully Erna of Godsmack.

Score by Canyon Cody and Sean Dwyer “Gnotes” both of Granada, Spain and Boyle Heights. Their Gnawledge Record company produced the CD “Granada Doaba.” Additional scoring contributions by Antonio De Jerez, Jose Tanaka & Kai Narezo.

Music Editor Fran Gala who worked on the 2010 Grammy-award winning CD “Resonance Big Band Plays Tribute to Oscar Peterson.”

Executive Producer Kevin Dunn is a veteran actor of more than 100 films and TV shows.

Co-producers are Noah Berlow, Margo Alexander (Dunn’s mom who loves Maria Callas, bouzouki and flamenco), Filmmaker and USC film school graduate Josh Hsieh, bailaora Cristina Lucio  and Laurie B. Kirby, Executive Director of The International Film and Music Festival Conference.

Special thanks to bailarina Rita Vega de Triana, author of  “Antonio Triana And The Spanish Dance A Personal Recollection.”  1993 harwood academic publishers

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