Columbia’s 14th annual Jewish Film Festival doesn’t officially kick off until March 30. But organizers of this year’s event wanted to give audiences a sneak peek. So, the festival is offering a free preview showing of “Return of the Violin,” followed by a musical performance today at the USC School of Music.
“Return of the Violin” is an hour-long documentary that tells the story of a 1713 Stradavarius violin that was given to a Bronislaw Huberman, a talented young Polish Jew who later founded the Israel Philharmonic as a way to get Jews out of Poland and Germany during the Nazi occupation.
The violin was stolen when Huberman played Carnegie Hall in New York City in 1936. It was discovered in the 1980s, covered in shoe polish. It was ultimately restored and put up for sale as a museum item. But renowned American violinist Joshua Bell reportedly could not bear to see the famous violin sit silent, so he bought it and plays it in his concerts today.
Today’s showing of the documentary will be followed by a short performance by Rebecca Hunter, violin, and Marina Lomazov, piano, both faculty members at USC’s School of Music. A discussion will also be held between assistant professor of history and Jewish studies Saskia Coenen Snyder, assistant professor of music history Kunio Hara, and assistant professor of English and Jewish studies Federica K. Clementi.
The film festival’s chairwoman, Heidi Lovit, hopes that the preview event will foster some excitement for the festival’s lineup of 10 films, ranging from comedies and dramas to documentaries on Palestinian-Israeli relations.
And she hopes the festival will draw a wider audience than just the Jewish community in Columbia.
“My goal is to reach out to the whole community,” Lovit said. “It’s to entertain and educate. We want to expose people to cultures and diversity.”