Featured image for review of ¡VIVA MAESTRO! on Sean Kelly on Movies


A portrait of the Los Angeles Philharmonic music and artistic director Gustavo Dudamel.

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The career of superstar conductor is affected by social unrest in Venezuela in . Venezuelan-born conductor Gustavo Dudamel set the music world on storm when he was appointed music director of the Simón Bolívar National Youth Orchestra of Venezuela at the age of 18 and has also been music and artistic director for Los Angeles Philharmonic since 2009. Growing political conflict and social unrest within Venezuela derail plans for a 2017 tour with Simón Bolívar Orchestra and Dudamel's conviction that music has the power to unite ends up being challenged.

¡VIVA MAESTRO! is a documentary directed by Ted Braun (Darfur Now) about Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel, who made a huge impact in the classical music world at a very young age. The film starts off in Caracas, Venezuela in February of 2017, as Dudamel is beginning rehearsals with the Simón Bolívar Orchestra for an upcoming international tour. However, social unrest begins to develop within the country and Dudamel finds himself an outcast from his homeland, as the Venezuelan government cancels the tour. This challenges Gustavo Dudamel's outlook that music should be a basic right that brings people together.

It is obvious that ¡VIVA MAESTRO! is a documentary that was originally meant more about the career of the young conductor Gustavo Dudamel, rather than the political and social unrest in the country, resulting in the worst rates of inflation and violent crime in the world. While the situation in the country is never ignored, and in fact, Gustavo Dudamel receives backlash from the Venezuelan government for speaking out against the violence, Ted Braun doesn't seem interested in having politics overtake the story of the film.

As such, ¡VIVA MAESTRO! ends up being much more about how Gustavo Dudamel bounces back after essentially being shut out by his own country. The film also deals with the relationship Dudamel has with his mentor, the great Maestro José Antonio Abreu, who put great responsibility upon Dudamel when he transitioned from being a young violinist in the Simón Bolívar National Youth Orchestra to becoming its main conductor.

The elements of ¡VIVA MAESTRO! that stand out the most are the film's many performance scenes, which see Dudamel work with many orchestras around the world to conduct the works of Beethoven and other notable composers. As such, ¡VIVA MAESTRO! is ultimately a film that will best be enjoyed by fans of classical music and the youthful conducting superstar that is Gustavo Dudamel.

¡VIVA MAESTRO! is part of The Impact Series an original film, podcast and speaker series, developed by Sherry Media Group, that is focused on global social and environmental issues.

Trailer for ¡VIVA MAESTRO!

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

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