Directed by Allan Miller • Documentary • 1995 • 77 minutes
This inspirational documentary deservedly earned a 1995 Academy Award nomination. Divorced mother Roberta Guaspari-Tzavaras taught music in the New York City school system until the budget ax eliminated her job. Dedicated to music and her students, she established a foundation and raised money to create her own violin program in three East Harlem schools. The film follows Guaspari-Tzavaras as she lugs her equipment from school to school, teaching students who range from young beginners to high-school students. The students' recitals include performing for an auditorium full of parents, playing the “Star-Spangled Banner” before a Knicks game at Madison Square Garden, and finally making a Carnegie Hall appearance accompanied by world renown violinists Isaac Stern and Itzhak Perlman.
"This stirring documentary...also provides gritty urban sociology, a can-do message about the possibilities of educational triumph in a parched cement landscape normally the haunt of pessimism and defeat, and a forceful reproach to every politician who has ever stuffed a pork barrel at the expense of an arts program for children." —The New York Times