10 2022

SJCA: Virtual Discussion for The Pianist

7:00PM - 9:30PM  

Temple Sinai 509 Broadway
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

(518) 584-8730

Roman Polanski, gifted producer and director, took an extraordinary story, the autobiography of Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Holocaust survivor, and made it into an unforgettable epic film, testifying to the power of hope, the resiliency of the human spirit…and, perchance, some outright luck. Polanski did not portray Szpilman as a hero because he survived, but, like himself, a Holocaust survivor, saw it as only fate, for they both could just as well have not survived.

The Pianist premiered at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival and went on to win innumerable awards both in the United States and other countries. It was a co-production of France, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Poland. Saratoga Jewish Community Arts, with a generous grant from the Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York and sponsored by Temple Sinai, presents this compelling panel discussion of the film The Pianist.

The Pianist tells the true-life story of Szpilman, one of the most acclaimed young musicians of his time with a promising career…only to be stopped cold by the onset of World War II. Szpilman was Jewish and living in Warsaw, Poland. In 1935, he was the house pianist for Polish State Radio, playing classical works and jazz until the day Germany invaded Poland. They forced the shutdown of the radio station and subsequently created and placed the Jews in what was known as the Warsaw Ghetto.

In the summer of 1942, deportations to the concentration and death camps began. Szpilman was pulled from the transport as his family was sent on. He remained in the Ghetto, providing slave labor and doing work for the Jewish resistance until he was able to escape. Hiding in empty buildings, slowly starving, and crazed until discovered by a music loving Nazi officer, who, determining that Szpilman really was a pianist and at first, thinking him a Pole, and then learning he was a Jew, helped him stay hidden and fed until the war ended in 1945.

‘Szpilman survived,” said Phyllis Wang, Coordinator of Saratoga Jewish Community Arts, “because of a few kindnesses of non-Jews at points of desperation, a Nazi officer whose love of music was greater than the hate of Jews, his own life-force and endurance, and his lifelong passion for music drawn from his musical family.”

The rest of his life continued with that which saved him, music. His autobiography was published soon after the war, but was suppressed by the Communists because he was a Jew, still flawed and penalized. It was not until after 1989 when the wall was felled that his story was republished.

The zoom panel discussion of The Pianist will be presented on Thursday, March 10 at 7 PM. The film is available to rent for $3.99 from streaming services including Amazon, Apple TV, You Tube, and Spectrum. Registration is required at

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