Documentary Featuring L.A. Student Musicians Wins an Oscar

  • The Los Angeles Unified School District is one of the only school districts in the nation to provide repaired musical instruments to students free of charge, a service offered since 1959.

    The technicians who maintain more than 80,000 instruments for the district’s student musicians were the focus of a film “The Last Repair Shop,” which recently won the Oscar for best Documentary Short Film at the 2024 Academy Awards.

    The documentary not only profiled the craftspeople who keep the instruments in good repair in a downtown windowless warehouse but featured several student musicians.

    Two of those student musicians: Roosevelt High junior and saxophonist Ismerai Calcáneo and Palms Middle School sixth grader and violinist Porché Brinker, walked the red carpet with the directors of the documentary and attended the ceremony.

    But first they were driven to the Academy Awards ceremony, along with the documentary crew, in a yellow school bus provided by the Los Angeles school district. Los Angeles Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho greeted the crew before they left.

    “You don’t have to go in a nice limousine to represent your community and represent who you are,” Calcáneo said in a story in the L.A. Times. “I’m excited to showcase my childhood going in the bus... and represent LAUSD.”

    At the Academy Awards ceremony when the “Last Repair Shop” was named the winner for Best Documentary Short Film the directors Ben Proudfoot and Kris Bowers walked to the stage with Brinker to accept the Oscar where they received a standing ovation.

    “The Last Repair Shop is about the heroes in our schools who often go unsung, unthanked, and unseen,” said co-director Bowers in his acceptance speech. “Tonight, you are sung, you are thanked, and you are seen.”

    The documentary can be viewed at: