Children of Las Brisas

Grappling with poverty, crime, and more, in Venezuela’s Las Brisas district, families’ hopes for the children hang on the escape found in a local youth orchestra.

Funding Initiative
Open Call

Marianela Maldonado

MARIANELA MALDONADO - a Graduate of the Nations Film and Television School in the UK, wrote and directed ‘The Look of Happiness’ and ‘Breaking Out’, two short films which premiered at Cannes Film Festival. As a screenwriter, Marianela has worked on various fiction and animation features and short films among them ‘Peter and the Wolf’ (Oscar winner 2008), Unmade Beds Show more (Sundance, Berlin, Rotterdam 2009), The Flying Machine (Toronto & 3D Films Festival 2012/2013) and Magic Piano (New York Film Festival, 2011 and pre-selected for the Academy Awards in 2012). Thanks to her successful short films and her work as a screenwriter, she was selected for the prestigious Writing Residence at Cannes Film Festival. As documentary director, she has worked for BBC World, co-directed a documentary tv series Bio-patents and ancestral Knowledge for Latin American TV. Recently, she co-wrote the feature documentary ÒOnce upon time in Venezuela’ -selected in Sundance 2020. Marianela is now working on the postproduction of her documentary feature film The Children of Las Brisas, shot over the last ten years in a dangerous Venezuelan slum. Since she moved to California, she has been teaching Script Writing at CalArts, producing short documentaries for Univision, and establishing her production company Invento Films. Currently, she is developing a fictional TV series and her first feature film ‘The Belly of the Whale’ for the LA based company Godard Studio. Show less

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The Film

IInn Venezuela’s Las Brisas neighborhood, the power of music is put to the test. Poverty, murder, and corruption leave the community’s families with few ways to create a brighter future. Their best local hope: a youth orchestra founded in 1975 known as El Sistema that offers children the opportunity to pursue a life of art in spite of the harshness of the society around them.

Nine-year-old Dissandra’s grandmother signs her up for the orchestra in the hope it will provide a healthy outlet for her granddaughter’s sorrow after she loses two sisters. Another grandmother coaxes a resistant Edixon to join as a scheme to keep him off of the very streets where his father was gunned down. In El Sistema, the young people meet the concertino Wuilly, a passionate musician who after abandoning life in a religious cult as a teenager taught himself to play the violin via YouTube videos. Together, their aspirations align, propelling the group to some success – even a venture to perform at the world-renowned Festival of Classical Music in Salzburg. Yet Venezuela’s spiraling collapse threatens the musicians’ dreams of a better life—can music save them?