From Schubert to Strauss, Bach to Brahms, Mozart to…Billy Joel, Itzhak Perlman’s violin playing transcends mere performance to evoke the celebrations and struggles of real life. Director Alison Chernick’s (The Jeff Koons Show, Matthew Barney: No Restraint) new documentary provides an intimate, cinéma vérité look at the remarkable life and career of this musician, widely considered the world’s greatest violinist.
The film looks beyond the 16-time Grammy-winning musician to see the polio survivor whose parents emigrated from Poland to Israel, and the young man who struggled to be taken seriously as a music student when schools saw only his disability. In the film, Perlman’s life story unfolds through conversations with fellow musicians and friends, including Billy Joel, Alan Alda, pianist Martha Argerich, cellist Mischa Maisky, and his wife of 50 years, Toby. The Perlmans dedicate their lives to their large Jewish family in New York City, shared love for music and continual support of young musicians. Itzhak is a portrait of musical virtuosity that explores themes of Jewish identity, Jewish history, humor and love.
“I wanted the viewer to experience what makes Itzhak special rather than be told so through a series of talking heads,” said Chernick. “The sound Itzhak generates comes from his heart and flows through his hands. Through this film, we come to realize how extraordinary this process really is.”
Itzhak had its world premiere at the Hamptons International Film Festival as the opening night film and was shown at numerous festivals including DOC NYC and the Palm Springs International Film Festival, where it won Best of Fest.