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.

children playing the violin in a livingroom
Independent Lens
Premiere Date
January 2, 2023
90 minutes
Funding Initiative
Open Call
filmmaker Marianela Maldonado

Marianela Maldonado

After graduating from the National Film & Television School in the U.K., Marianela wrote and directed fiction short films and was a screenwriter for animation and fiction projects, among them Peter and the Wolf and The Magic Piano. As a documentarian, she co-wrote Once Upon A Time in Venezuela and directed Children of Las Brisas.

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The Film

In 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?