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Story of LAUSD music instrument repair program wins documentary short Oscar

“The Last Repair Shop,” a film following a team of four people who repair and maintain instruments used by students in Los Angeles Unified School District music classes, won the Oscar for best documentary short tonight, and the filmmakers hailed it as a victory in support of music education.

And they also announced a fund-raising effort to help bolster the LAUSD program.

“‘The Last Repair Shop’ is about one of the last musical instrument repair shops in the country that … resides within a public school district,” co-director Ben Proudfoot told reporters backstage at the Dolby Theatre. “So, we’re thrilled to announce a $15 million capital campaign to help shore up the repair shop. You can go to thelastrepairshop.com right now. Everybody watching — $5, you know, $10, anything — everything helps, and I think it goes to show the power of the short documentary.

“You know, we made this film on our own dime for many years, four years,” he said. “And to see the impact that it’s making on students’ lives at the end of the day is just incredible. And we really hope that this film has a lasting impact here in Los Angeles and beyond.”

Co-director Kris Bowers said he was proud to take on the challenge of telling the story about the music program in the public school system he attended.

“I played saxophone for a short while, those instruments were incredibly important, and whenever they were broken or needed repair, I assumed they were being sent to the manufacturer,” Bowers said. “I never thought about how they were being repaired. And so when Ben told me about the story, I immediately realized — it never dawned on me the people that go behind the scenes to make sure that this young kid that needs to play this piano every day has that piano. And so, for me, the moment that Ben told me about it was the moment that I felt like this was a story that needed to be told.”

The film was co-distributed by the Los Angeles Times Studios and Searchlight.

LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho also celebrated the film’s Oscar win, writing on social media, “Thank you for sharing this inspirational story with the world. We are beyond proud of our (LAUSD) craftspeople and students.”

Proudfoot also stressed the impact that music education had on him.

“There are so many programs and foundations and people that are looking to find the next great musical talent,” he said. “Who’s the next great prodigy and how do we put them into a great track so they can become great musicians? But there’s also an incredible social benefit for music education of everybody who doesn’t become a professional musician. I loved learning playing piano. I learned about discipline. I learned about harmony. I learned about listening, collaboration, etc. And that’s what this film is about. It’s about access for everyone regardless of where you come from and whatever your story is, music is accessible to you.”


Source: NBC Los Angeles

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