Through intimate interviews and live performances, They Played for Their Lives artfully portrays how music saved the lives of young musicians. 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 illustrate the power of music to sustain the human soul. At the end of the 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.

During their darkest hours, music provided hope and escape...

the extraordinary story of eight musicians whose lives were saved by music

One of the more beautiful things about the movie is that it brings home the fact that music is a universal language 
and it can unite people, despite differences...The depth here, and the restorative power of music, brings a new 
chapter to a familiar tale of woe, and lightens it with the kind of hope we all so desperately need in these times.
-  Woodstock Times Review


Unlike many Holocaust films, “TPFTL is not a lament but a celebration of music and life. It is a film about 
reunions and the mysterious ability of music to forge unbreakable bonds.
-  JP Updates Review .pdf 


What an incredibly and moving film...you left the audience inspired.
-  Charlie Junkerman, Dean of Continuing Studies, Stanford University


Your documentary takes one of the darkest subjects in the last 100 years of human history and 
transforms it into a sacred and joyous triumph.
-  Jill Woolworth, Stanford Distinguished Careers Institute, 2017


What an extraordinary movie...a moving tribute to all the survivors!
-  Francine Gani


This Millennial generation should view this film!
-  Ted M. Kahn, Ph.D.


The audience was all eyes and ears...your audience was deeply moved and inspired by the documentary, 
an effect only skillful and thoughtful work can achieve.
-  Regina Casper, M.D.


The Jewish mystics well understood that music takes us to a higher level of spirituality than the spoken word. This incredible film does just that. It is an incredible testimony of the power of music when combined with the Jewish soul 
in the most horrific situation.	I found myself crying tears of joy at least five times in this movie. I was crying not only 
in reaction to the story, but also because through their lives and their music, these amazing survivors challenge us 
to affirm "Am Yisrael Chai - The Jewish People live!" This movie is a must see, for it is both a verification of Jewish 
continuity as well as a testimony to the strength which music brings to the human spirit!
-  Rabbi Fred Guttman Temple Emanuel Greensboro, North CarolinaHome_files/Woodstock%20Times%20Review%20.pdfHome_files/JP%20Updates%20Review%20.pdfshapeimage_2_link_0shapeimage_2_link_1