Marianela Maldonado

Director's Notes

Venezuela - In the late 70's a small but influential group of musical thinkers started a program that would become the international phenomenon known as El Sistema "The System", part social program and part rigorous musical training, giving children who have almost no opportunities, the chance to become musicians. But currently Venezuela is in crisis and bankrupt, with the highest inflation in the world. It now has the world’s 2nd highest murder rate, there is chronic shortages of all goods, foods, medicines and spare parts; there’s political turmoil, corruption in all sectors, a broken justice system and a conduit for cocaine trafficking.

In this context, the film explores the fates of a group of children over the span of six years - building a tapestry of moments that make a powerful statement about the cost of perseverance, the growth of dignity, and finding new dreams after older ones have been attained. Narrated by the children and their families, this documentary is part reflective and part observational. Shot in a manner that reflects their development from crude beginners to exceptional musicians, it’s an intimate and playful portrait that captures their lives inside the dark cinderblock homes and sun-beaten concrete streets. A story of setbacks, uncertainty, lack of resources, and overcoming faltering determination.