Vancouver International FIlm fEstival

Geist of North America

Review by Kris Rothstein

This irresistible, loving documentary is the story of a teacher who truly cares. Mrs Carey is responsible for a big classical music concert which is held at the Sydney Opera House every two years at which the students from her school perform. Some relish the challenge and the spotlight while others are more ... reluctant.

Mrs Carey's Concert is very focused, which means we don't get any background on how the concert started, what the school is like or the personal history of Mrs Carey. This is wonderfully liberating and allows us to be thrown into the musical journey of the young performers.
The star is Emily, a talented violin player chosen to take over leadership of the orchestra and to play the big solo. But Emily has been in trouble in the past and doesn't want the responsibility of concertmaster. The villain is Iris, a member of the choir who makes no secret of the fact that she doesn't want to be there and enjoys disrupting other students. Will Mrs Carey convince her of the transformative power of music?
The documentary style here is quite straight-forward but the story told is nuanced, dealing well with the subtleties of young performers and how they balance their gifts with their immature personalities. And while the characters are not over-explained, a few simple details really reveal their passions and what makes them tick.