The Last Repair Shop (2023)

Now Officially Available to Stream on Youtube and Screening in Theaters.

Ben Proudfoot and Kris Bowers’ Oscar nominated documentary is a wonderful look at music and the human connection it can provide. In a world where less and less human contact is being explored, music is one of the last bastions we have where we’re capable of not only connecting with one another mentally, but emotionally, and sometimes physically. “The Last Repair Shop” is about the fragility and art of music and the instruments that make them.

In a nondescript warehouse in the heart of Los Angeles, a dwindling handful of devoted craftspeople maintain over 80,000 student musical instruments, the largest remaining workshop in America of its kind. Meet four unforgettable characters whose broken-and-repaired lives have been dedicated to bringing so much more than music to the schoolchildren of the recording capital of the world.

The pair of directors discuss not only the effect that music has on people that play and enjoy it, but on the dwindling resources in preserving them. While that might seem dire in retrospect, “The Last Repair Shop” is more centralized on the idea of how music can open doors and allow all kinds of unique endeavors and opportunities. The directors not only dig in to the experiences but also the unique art form of preserving musical instruments. That’s where the movie excels in where both directors spotlight how fragile instruments like violins and pianos can be and how specialists for keeping them working have become harder and harder to find in the modern world.

The craft of restoring a violin or saxophone is a meticulous process filled with so much room for error. But the artists interviewed stress their importance and how for many the instrument is an extension of their own personality. There are some interesting looks at instrument repair, as well as talks about how music allowed for huge opportunities, including one man whose love for violin transformed into a partnership with Colonel Parker, a huge gig at Disney World, and his eventual meeting of his wife. “The Last Repair Shop” is a marvelous short documentary, one that’s teeming with feature length potential. It’s a small nugget in a massive world of artistic expression and joy.