section YidLife Crisis in Film and other Canadian-Jewish stories

The Rhapsody

  • David Hoffert
  • CA
  • 2022
  • 105 Min

The impressive life story of Polish-born musician and Shoah survivor Leo Spellman, who emigrated to Canada in 1948, made a career in Toronto as a composer, concert pianist and music director, and celebrated a musical triumph with "The Rhapsody" at the age of 99.

The Rhapsody 1939-1945 is the title of a musical work that the Shoah survivor, composer, pianist and music director Leo Spellman, born Lazar Szpilman in Ostrowiec, Poland, composed shortly after the end of the war. Director David Hoffert dedicates his documentary film THE RHAPSODY to Spellman's remarkable life story. Having hitherto lain hidden for 50 years, the piece is here performed once again, accompanied by Hoffert's camera, by an orchestra. Excerpts from Spellman's previously unpublished diary, which he kept during the last year and a half of the war, are interwoven into the film in the form of animations. Actor Stephen Fry narrates the harrowing entries. In addition, Hoffert conducts interviews with Spellman himself, his family and his father, the orchestra leader Paul Hoffert. Particularly touching is footage from the Canadian premiere of Rhapsody, which Spellman attended in person shortly before his death. A deeply moving film about the power of music, which accompanied Leo Spellman, who died at the age of 99, throughout his life; and helped him to survive. Spellman came from a dynasty of musicians: in 2002, director Roman Polański paid cinematic tribute to his cousin, the pianist Władysław Szpilman, in THE PIANIST.

Text: Stefanie Borowsky
English: Peter Rickerby


original title The Rhapsody

international title The Rhapsody

german title Die Rhapsodie

JFBB section YidLife Crisis in Film and other Canadian-Jewish stories

  • director David Hoffert

country/countries CA

year 2022

duration 105 Min