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Documentary Film Screening: They Played for Their Lives
Through intimate interviews and live performances, They Played for Their Lives artfully
portrays how music saved the lives of young Jewish musicians through the nightmare
years of the Holocaust. Playing music in the ghettos and concentration camps not only
fostered spiritual strength within themselves and others but often proved a bargaining
tool that spared their lives. The documentary follows the personal narratives of eight
survivors. Chaim recounts how he saved his father from beatings by teaching an SS
officer to play the harmonica. Anita, who played cello in the Women’s Orchestra in
Auschwitz, was spared inhumane forced labor. And little Hellmuth whistled with the
band in exchange for extra food and clothing. Each of these unique stories illustrates
the power of music to sustain the human soul. At the end of the World War, their lives
unfold in surprising ways, yet music remains at the core of their memory and legacy.
Charcoal illustrations, a live piano performance by 106-year old Alice, and a moving
reunion of two boys who searched for each other for 66 years make this compelling
Join us for a screening of They Played for Their Lives and a special post-film discussion with the director and filmmaker Nurit Jugend, artist Ari Binus, and host of KQED’s Forum, Michael Krasny.
Nurit Jugend, Composer; Filmmaker; Music Lecturer
Nurit Jugend has composed more than a dozen published works that have been performed
and broadcast worldwide. She works with leading orchestras and ensembles such as the
Israel Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta, and the St. Lawrence String Quartet. Jugend
received a PhD in music from Stanford.
Ari Binus, Illustrator
Ari Binus studied painting at Boston University's College of Fine Arts. He has
illustrated five children's books for various publishing houses and has created storyboards
and artwork for use in numerous documentaries and short films. He also consults for
a wide range of other storytelling and creative communications projects, such as writing
song lyrics for video game music and narration scripts for video game cinematics.
Michael Krasny, Host of Forum, KQED Radio; Professor of English, SF State
Michael Krasny is a scholar and professor of English and American literature, an award-winning broadcast journalist, and the author of two acclaimed books, Off Mike: A Memoir of Talk Radio and Literary Life and Spiritual Envy: An Agnostic’s Quest. Since 1993, he has been the host of Forum with Michael Krasny on KQED Radio, the most listened-to locally produced public radio program in the country.