World premiere screening of MOR’s new documentary at the Seattle Art Museum
SEATTLE, WA—September 8, 2011—Seattle’s Music of Remembrance (MOR) presents the world premiere of a new feature documentary, The Boys of Terezín, at the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) Downtown (1300 First Avenue) on Sunday, October 30, at 2:30 p.m. The screening will take place in SAM’s Plestcheeff Auditorium, and will be followed by a post-film discussion with the director and cinematographer, and local teens interviewed for the film. Admission is $18 in advance when purchased through MOR’s website: musicofremembrance.org, or $25 at the door. The first 100 high school students to register for the event at MOR’s website will be admitted for free.
MOR Artistic Director Miller, an internationally known speaker on artists’ spiritual resistance during the Holocaust, will introduce the 51-minute film created by John Sharify, known to many in the Seattle area from his decades as an award-winning TV news journalist.
“Imagine you’re a Jewish teenager—in 1942,” the documentary’s synopsis suggests. “The Nazis have occupied your country. You’ve been deported to the concentration camp at Terezín. You don’t know your fate—but in fact most of your friends will be sent to a death camp over the next two years.”
As the film explains, a group of about 100 teenage boys lived in the same room at the camp, Terezín’s Home One. Cynically exploited in Nazi propaganda depicting it as “the Führer’s gift to the Jews,” Terezín was in reality a brutal anteroom to destruction. Lives were cut short by cold, hunger and disease—and systematic deportations to death camps. Of the 15,000 children sent to Terezín, fewer 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 they called VEDEM (Czech for “in the lead”).
The documentary travels the world to speak with five of the six remaining survivors, and to hear about the pictures, essays, articles and poems they created for the magazine. The boys ran a huge risk, but were never discovered by the camp’s authorities. Sidney Taussig, the only boy to remain in Terezín until the end of the war, describes how he buried about 800 pages of the magazine in a metal container, and retrieved the manuscript after liberation.
The film also engages viewers in an unlikely encounter that spanned generations, when members of Seattle’s Northwest Boychoir began rehearsals of a new oratorio, Vedem, commissioned by MOR from American composer Lori Laitman. The boys in the choir got to meet the surviving “Boys of Terezín,” men now in their 80s, and learn from them the history of the magazine they created weekly beneath the noses of their Nazi captors. As the Holocaust survivors shared those memories, a new generation’s eyes were opened to what the Holocaust’s genocide meant to teens just like them.
The power of this legacy is revealed in a selection of the magazine’s extraordinary poems, set to stunning music by American composer Lori Laitman. Her oratorio, written in collaboration with poet David Mason, illuminates the boys’ homesickness, fatigue from cold and hunger, and anger at their imprisonment—and also their humor, courage, and dignity even at the darkest of times.
The film’s poignant conclusion captures the reunion, sixty-five years later, of four surviving “boys of Terezín.” They arrive in Seattle for Music of Remembrance’s world premiere performance of the oratorio, to recall their lost friends, honor the courage and idealism they all shared, and demonstrate the profound meaning of musical witness. After the film, MOR will invite members of the Boychoir seen in the film to talk about their personal discovery of this legacy.
The Boys of Terezín, A Documentary
Producer, director, writer and narrator: John Sharify
Cinematographer: Tim Griffis
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, cinematographer, 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.
About Music of Remembrance
Music of Remembrance (MOR) fills a unique spiritual and cultural role in Seattle and throughout the United States by remembering Holocaust musicians and their art through musical performances, educational programs, musical recordings and commissions of new works. Since its 1998–99 inaugural year, MOR has presented two major concerts annually at Seattle’s Benaroya Hall, marking the anniversary of Kristallnacht (The Night of Broken Glass) each fall and Holocaust Remembrance Day each spring. Since 2005–06, MOR’s outreach series Sparks of Gloryhas combined free public concerts with commentary by Artistic Director Mina Miller, reaching beyond the concert hall through performance residencies around Seattle. More information available at www.musicofremembrance.org.