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The Lady in Number 6

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Winner of the Oscar for Best Documentary Short at the Academy Awards.

 

At 109 at the time of filming, Alice Herz-Sommer was the world's oldest pianist…and the oldest Holocaust survivor. This uplifting Oscar-winning film is her inspirational story, recording a one hundred year history, and also recounting the enduring strengths of the human spirit.

Directed by Malcolm Clarke, The Lady in Number 6 remarkably illustrates how Alice Herz-Sommer’s love of music and unbreakable optimism guided her through one of history's darkest periods, World War II and the Holocaust. Alice’s childhood in Prague was enriched by family friends who surrounded her -scientists, musicians, and writers such as Franz Kafka.  She diligently learned to play the piano and pursued a career as a classical musician, a choice that would lead her to meet her husband, Leopold Sommer. After the Nazi’s invasion of Czechoslovakia, Alice’s ailing mother Sophie was taken away and murdered. Alice found emotional refuge in learning to play Chopin’s 24 Etudes, practicing up to eight hours a day. She and her son Raphael were then sent to Theresienstadt concentration camp. Her husband Leopold would follow, but would later be sent to Auschwitz, he died at Dachau.

Rare archival footage, photographs and fascinating interviews from Alice and her friends, who are also survivors, poignantly illustrate how hope and music affected their lives throughout the most horrific times. Alice Herz-Sommer died, aged 110, one week before the Oscar ceremony. At the heart of her remarkable story of courage and endurance is her passion for music and a universal, inextinguishable love of life.

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