Germany,France,Japan,Switzerland,Sweden | 2009 | 102min | HD | COLOR | Documentary
‘El Sistema’ is a network of children’s and youth orchestras, music centers and workshops in Venezuela, in which more than 250,000 children and young people are currently learning to play an instrument. It was set up over 30 years ago by José Antonio Abreu, a conductor, composer and economist who was driven by the utopian vision of a better future. He developed the idea of combining social work with classical music, in order to offer children from poor neighbourhoods an alternative to life on the streets. In the dangerous and poverty-stricken shanty towns of Caracas, Abreu lifts children out of poverty through music, changing both people and structures. The story, which has all the makings of a fairytale, is the extraordinary account of a vision that has become reality. Several of the system’s young graduates now rank amongst the most coveted young talent in Europe - the most prominent being the 28-year-old conductor Gustavo Dudamel and the double bass player Edicson Ruiz, who at the age of 17 became the youngest musician ever to join the Berlin Philharmonic. The film El Sistema shows how Abreu’s astonishing ideas have led the way out of the vicious circle of poverty - and how the power of music has been able to change the lives of hundreds of thousands of young people.
Born in 1979, Maria Stodtmeier studied cultural work in Potsdam and Budapest. She produced various international music and literature projects. Since 2006 she has been active as a film producer. In this time she has been in charge of three concert recordings with the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra and the Venezuelan Brass Ensemble, in Europe and Venezuela, as well as concert recordings with the Orchestra Mozart and the Lucerne Festival Orchestra.
Producer, director and screenwriter Paul Smaczny studied law, French and German literature, film and theatre in Germany and Paris. He has produced or directed more than 150 films and television programs throughout the world, capturing some of the most important musical events of the last fifteen years, featuring such renowned orchestras and opera houses as the Berliner Philharmoniker, Lucerne Festival Orchestra, Staatsoper of Berlin, La Scala in Milan.