El sistema (2008)

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A film by Paul Smaczny and Maria Stodtmeier. Venezuela's unique system of music education takes children from violent slums and turns some of them into world-class musicians. El Sistema ... See full summary »

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Credited cast:
Jose Antonio Abreu ...
Gustavo Dudamel ...


A film by Paul Smaczny and Maria Stodtmeier. Venezuela's unique system of music education takes children from violent slums and turns some of them into world-class musicians. El Sistema shows how Venezuelan visionary Jose Antonio Abreu has changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of children over the past three decades. This lyrical and moving documentary takes us from the rubbish dumps and barrios of Caracas to the world's finest concert halls. Children from streets dominated by the gun battles of gang warfare are taken into music schools, given access to music, and taught through the model of the symphony orchestra how to build a better society. Paul Smaczny and Maria Stodtmeier's film finds hope and joy in unlikely places. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Documentary | Music



Official Sites:


Release Date:

16 April 2009 (Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Система  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

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Technical Specs



Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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User Reviews

There are other ways of helping people other than microcredit
28 April 2009 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

El Sistema is a film of great emotion and pathos. It depicts how Jose Antonia Abreu took a love for music with his desire to help ordinary children find a way out of the trappings of Venezuela's pitfalls of dire poverty. His project started in 1975. Three decades later his movement has bloomed into a full-fledged public works program that several around the world now want to copy and implement.

Its obviously a greatly complex film. However, its beauty in showing the emotions of the various children who now have found a way out of the violence and the generally awful accoutrements of poverty. There is a genuine desire to help people from the founders of the project, to change society in a way that is creative, open and diverse.

The paternalistic figure of Abreu along with his chief composer intermittedly commentate on their motivations to drive their movement forward. "Music" says Abreu "is the best way to express the deep feelings of humankind". His emotions seem sincere, he invested almost a third of his life and now 265,000 children have a hope that no one thought possible before.

As a student of development economics. It is refreshing to see a more bold and more inventive approach to helping the poorest out of poverty. An approach that is not driven by economic growth or creating wealth but just giving children the opportunity to express themselves and show a more dynamic side of human nature.

Maybe the film is on balance an appraisal of "El Sistema" rather than an analysis of its entire function it definitely captures the positive spirit of Venezuela and its people.

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