Now Showing: "The Boys of Terezín" Documentary
Five Holocaust survivors, a boychoir, and a chamber music group unite to tell the story of the secret concentration camp journal created under the nose of their Nazi captors.
Created in 2011 by Seattle award-winning TV journalist John Sharify, this documentary film takes you inside the Terezín concentration camp as seen through the eyes of teenage boys imprisoned there, and recalled through the words they wrote in a secret magazine they created under the noses of their Nazi captors. We witness the improbable reunion of four survivors 65 years later at the premiere in Seattle of an oratorio that gives musical voice to their lost friends’ extraordinary poems. The free program includes live musical performance of chamber music composed in Terezín. Music of Remembrance Artistic Director Mina Miller discusses Terezin’s inspiring legacy of courage in the face of oppression, and relates it to SAM’s special exhibition: “Go Tell It: Civil Rights Photography.” Filmmaker John Sharify leads a Q/A following the screening.
About the film:
A True Story Most People Have Never Heard
You’re a Jewish teenager—in 1942. The Nazis occupy your country, and you’re deported to the concentration camp at Terezín. You don’t know your fate—but in fact most of the children there will be sent to a death camp at some time in the next two years.
It’s very easy for young people today to see a tragedy like the Holocaust as something from the distant past that could never happen to me. But for members of Seattle’s acclaimed Northwest Boychoir, their rehearsal of a new oratorio is about to open their eyes to what the Holocaust’s genocide meant to teens just like them. They’re going to meet the surviving “boys of Terezín,” and learn the poems that the boys wrote for their secret magazine VEDEM while imprisoned by Nazis.
Stunning music by American composer Lori Laitman illuminates the boys’ homesickness, fatigue from cold and hunger, and anger at their imprisonment—and also their humor, courage and unity even at the darkest of times.
In a poignant finale, four “boys of Terezín” reunite in Seattle—after sixty-five years—for the world premiere performance of the new Music of Remembrance oratorio, remembering their lost friends, honoring the courage and idealism they all shared, and proving that nothing is as deeply human as the music we share.
The History of VEDEM
A group of 100 teenage boys lived in the same room, Home One, at Terezín. Terezín is known by many for its use in Nazi propaganda depicting it as “the Fuehrer’s gift to Jews.” In reality, life there was brutal, cut short by cold, disease, starvation—and regular deportations to death camps. Of the 15,000 children sent to Terezín, less than 1,000 were alive by war’s end.
The boys in Home One, aged thirteen to sixteen, documented their lives in a secret weekly magazine that they called VEDEM (Czech for “In the Lead”). They drew pictures, and wrote essays, interviews and poetry. It was a huge risk—they would have been sent to death camps if caught—but the magazine was never discovered. Sidney Taussig, the only boy to remain at Terezín until the end of the war, buried about 800 pages of the magazine, then retrieved the manuscript after liberation.
John Sharify, producer, director, writer and narrator continues his cinematic exploration of artistic resistance to oppression. In 2009 he produced the documentary UNSILENCED, about voices of musical witness to the Holocaust. To film The Boys of Terezín, Sharify traveled the world to meet with five of the six remaining survivors who created an extraordinary secret journal. Sharify is a seven-time recipient of the coveted National Edward R. Murrow prize for journalism, and the winner of 40 Emmy Awards. A graduate of Princeton University, he also holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in Film Directing from Columbia University.
Tim Griffis, director of photography, is creative director of NorthWest Video Edge and the winner of seventeen regional Emmys, three Edward R. Murrow Awards, and dozens of National Press Photographers Association awards for documentaries, breaking news and feature stories. A graduate of the University of Idaho, Griffis is a faculty member for NPPA and NPPF courses, the National Press Club, and the Poynter Institute for Media Studies.
Led by Artistic Director Mina Miller, Music of Remembrance fills a unique spiritual and cultural role in Seattle and throughout the world by remembering Holocaust musicians and their art through musical performances, educational programs, musical recordings, and commissions of new works.
With John Sharify, we have also produced a 15-minute educational version, The Boys of Home One, for classroom use. If you are a student, teacher, or parent, we would love to speak with you about how we can bring it to your school as part of MOR's outreach program. Contact us for more information: email@example.com.
Producer, director, writer, and narrator: John Sharify
Cinematographer: Tim Griffis
Festivals/broadcasters: For information on screenings or airings, email us.
Find the latest information about The Boys of Terezín at www.theboysofterezin.com