Small Wonders

  • 1996
  • Movie
  • G
  • Documentary

There's something creepy at the heart of this purportedly inspirational, Academy Award-nominated documentary. In 1990, violinist Roberta Guaspari-Tzavaras founded Fiddlefest, a nonprofit organization designed to bring classical music to students at three public schools in New York City's East Harlem. Each year, 150 kids are chosen by lottery and embark...read more

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There's something creepy at the heart of this purportedly inspirational, Academy Award-nominated documentary. In 1990, violinist Roberta Guaspari-Tzavaras founded Fiddlefest, a nonprofit organization designed to bring classical music to students at three public schools

in New York City's East Harlem. Each year, 150 kids are chosen by lottery and embark upon a rigorous course of violin instruction under the iron baton of their abrasive maestro. "You are a puppet," Roberta reminds one young pupil as she teaches him how to draw the bow, "and I'm doing it." Her

draconian teaching methods consist mostly of threats and punishment, and rarely do the children seem to be enjoying what they're doing. One plaintively admits, "Sometimes I make Roberta happy, and that makes me happy." The film is most interesting when it follows the youngsters, but it's really

Roberta's show, and the filmmakers never question her conviction that Fiddlefest is of vital importance to the East Harlem community. Hey, it's great to play Carnegie Hall; it's just that noone seems happier on stage than Roberta.

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  • Released: 1996
  • Rating: G
  • Review: There's something creepy at the heart of this purportedly inspirational, Academy Award-nominated documentary. In 1990, violinist Roberta Guaspari-Tzavaras founded Fiddlefest, a nonprofit organization designed to bring classical music to students at three p… (more)

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