No need to tell you that there are a lot of Kickstarter campaigns for films nowadays, but, once in whilem there’s one for a project that is too special and worthwhile to ignore.
And one such project is for the the currently-in-post-production documentary El Sistema USA!
Directed by Anthony Drazan, who directed the interracial romance drama Zebrahead back in the 90’s that some of you may remember, and produced by Jamie Bernstein (the daughter of the legendary conductor Leonard Bernstein), the film chronicles the efforts by Stanford Thompson to start up an El Sistema music program in Philadelphia public schools, which he calls Play On Philly!, and the extraordinary positive and uplifting effects the program has on its participants.
First, some background for those who are unfamilar with the El Sistema program. It was created some 35 years ago in Venezuela by Dr. Jose Antonio Abreu, who correctly observed that “a child holding a violin cannot hold a gun,” and set out to create a social change and rescue program to uplift and bring about self esteem and a positive change in the lives of thousands of at risk young people by teaching them to play musical instruments and playing classical orchestral music.
The result has been, and continues to be, an extraordinary success changing the lives of countless people, as well as spawning the careers of major musicians in world class orchestras such as the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra, and the Teresa Carreno Youth Orchestra; also many world reknown conductors, most famously Gustavo Dudamel, the music director and principal conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonc, Diego Matheuz the music director and chief conductor of Venice’s La Fenice Opera House and Rafael Payare, a former member of the Simon Bolivar Orchestra, who just this past May won the top prize at the Malko Conducting Competition in Copenhagen.
The El Sistema program and its successes are also prominently featured and examined in author Candace Allen’s new book Soul Music by Gibson Square Books.
And now, El Sistema has gone global with similar programs in the U.K. and the U.S. (in Philly, Los Angeles, Baltimore), and coming soon, an El Sistema program currently underway in Chicago, called the People Music School YOURS Project.
So El Sistema USA! documents an extraodinary program that is currently transforming young people in ways never before imagined.
And here’s the trailer for the film: