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 viewing.
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.
For more information about the film including a short preview, please visit www.theyplayedfortheirlives.com.
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.
Free and open to the public.