The Student Movement

Arts & Entertainment

The Last Repair Shop: A Review

Lexie Dunham

Photo by Disney Plus

Over this past spring break, my eyes had the pleasure of watching the short documentary “The Last Repair Shop.” This documentary won an Oscar, so I had to check it out for myself, and I was not disappointed. A story about dedication, passion for music, and a wonderfully “human” story, this short documentary was heartwarming and emotional. In an incredibly moving way, we also hear from some of the students who have acquired these instruments and the personal impact it has had on their lives.

The story follows the personal journeys of four gifted repair persons as they fix instruments for the Los Angeles Unified School District, which offers free instruments to all of its students. The number of instruments these four individuals fix comes out to around 80,000 musical instruments. The highlighted repair workers are Paty Moreno (brass), Duane Michaels (woodwinds), Dana Atkinson (strings), and Steve Bagmanyan (pianos). All these people are incredibly dedicated to their craft and believe that each instrument is a special present to each child that receives them.

Through incredible highs and lows, hardships, and hopes, the four repair workers have perfected their craft and share a love for music through the care of repairing the instruments. As Paty Moreno said, “[The instrument] is like a secret communication between the kid and myself. What kind of story can that instrument tell me if he could talk to me.” She even keeps a jar of things such as bandaids, toys, and pencils that she finds in the instruments as she repairs them. Students who played instruments such as the sousaphone, violin, and piano spoke about how they felt their instruments had improved their lives. Their musical experience gives them a purpose and hope for a better future than their current home situation.

Overall, this short documentary was such a joy to watch. My eyes were filled with tears during the whole film. I loved all the stories and how they flowed into a commonality: the love of music. The four repair workers were all so engaging, and they did a great job of providing a glimpse into their lives. It made me greatly appreciate individuals like this who take their passions and help others. Some of them had gone through intense events that shaped their lives – it is so saddening that they could have given up on music, but their experiences helped them appreciate music even more. There is truly something beautiful about a movie about dedicated people hidden in the background. This movie calls to appreciate the people who work hard at what they do but may not be acknowledged as much as they deserve. Each repair worker was so passionate about music. Despite their past, despite their hardships, despite their successes, they have come together to help children fulfill their dreams of being able to play an instrument. What an immense amount of care they put into each instrument they repair!

If you love stories that take a peek into human existence, this documentary is for you! The soundtrack helps take us on the repairpersons’ journey to get where they are. This film invites the audience to remember to appreciate people and empathize with everyone. You never know what people went through to get where they are. Music can cultivate a community that takes care of each other and helps the growth and love of music to grow.

The Student Movement is the official student newspaper of Andrews University. Opinions expressed in the Student Movement are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors, Andrews University or the Seventh-day Adventist church.