Children of Las Brisas
Considerations from the filmmakers
In 2009, I had the opportunity to get to know the recently opened Las Brisas music school and speak with the neighbors about their involvement with “El Sistema”, a musical program created in Venezuela by José Antonio Abreu in the seventies, and replicated in many countries around the globe. I wanted to show something different about this organization, which had already been glorified in a few documentaries.
I was lucky to meet a few kids from the first class of Las Brisas orchestra, unaware that they would become a permanent part of my life. During the years of filming, one thing we learned is that dreams can help people overcome terrible obstacles and suffering. We believe that the mental fortitude these children acquired through their musical education gave them the skills to survive beyond the context of orchestras.
Spending all this time with these children also allowed us to closely observe the relationship between the Venezuelan government and “El Sistema.” Over the years, this organization was taken over by the regime and turned into an instrument of propaganda, selling the goal of reaching two million child musicians, while the majority of citizens do not have access to primary quality services such as water, electricity, food and education.
During the first years of filming, the creative team consisted of Marianela Maldonado, Robin Todd and Luisa De La Ville. We filmed at the “Las Brisas” neighborhood to the extent of our possibilities, until we obtained funds from the National Center of Cinematography in Venezuela (CNAC) and the IDFA Bertha Fund for the production.
The process of reviewing film materials and editing preliminary rough cuts began after Jessica Wenzelmann was incorporated as story editor. The coming of age story, in which the kids become young adults was registered, and required the visualization of hundreds of hours of footage filmed for the past six years.
When the Venezuelan crisis broke out in 2017, the story took an unexpected turn. We needed to document how the situation in the country was affecting the protagonists and their families.
In 2020, we were selected by the competitive ITVS and the LPB (Latino Public Broadcasting) from the public television service. With those contributions, we were able to finance post-production.
The world premiere took place at the Sheffield Doc Film Festival, UK, in June 2022. In November 2022 it premiered at the prestigious DOC NYC in North America. Broadcasted by TV France in Europe, and since January 2023, distributed by PBS through its documentary series Independent Lens.