Interweaving the haunting refrains from the world premiere of A Twentieth Century Passion, his oratorio in memory of the 6 million Jews massacred in the Second World War, the documentary tells the life journey of holocaust survivor and composer, A. Peter Gary.
Using a combination of in-depth interviews with Peter and archival footage from the 1940s, the story of his fate at the hands of the Nazis becomes the personal story that epitomizes the experience of millions. One terrible Christmas Eve Peter and his mother – along with 300 others – were taken in trucks to woods near the border with Poland; lined up, naked, on the edge of a ravine and mown down with machine–guns. Peter’s mother pushed him from behind, down the ravine. She was killed, but Peter and three others survived and made their way to Poland. Peter was smuggled into the Warsaw ghetto. After four months there he was transported first to Majdanek then Dachau and ultimately Bergen-Belsen, where he was liberated by the British Army on his 21st birthday. He weighed 76 pounds.
The horror of the concentration camps contrasts poignantly with current footage of Peter speaking to schoolchildren on Vancouver Island. Peter believes he owes it to the Jewish children who died and to future generations to speak out against hate and teach tolerance and understanding. “We must stamp out hate for our children. We must believe that we can and will do better.“
After the war Peter emigrated to the US and when unable to make a living with his beloved music he studied to become a doctor and specialized in rehabilitation and pain management. But he continued to write music, as he does to this day
Musical Director Barak Tal visits Peter in his home just outside Victoria, British Columbia. They pore over his manuscripts for the oratorio that was written almost forty years ago. “I realized there was all this amazing music, oratorios, requiems, written to mourn and celebrate the death of one Jew – Jesus Christ – but no music for the six million. So I wrote something through which they can be mourned, year after year… down the ages”.
Peter’s wife promised when they married nine years ago that Peter would see the oratorio performed before he died, “Next year, In Jerusalem” says Barak. The film will culminate in the world premiere performance in Israel the day after Peter’s 92nd birthday. We’ll join Peter as he watches his dream become a reality and with him mourn and honour each one of those precious six million lives.
The Documentary Team
HILARY PRYOR – DIRECTOR/PRODUCER
Over the last 25 years Hilary Pryor, President of May Street Productions, has achieved an impressive reputation as a creative director, writer and producer of inspiring, award-winning broadcast programming. As well as commissions from prominent Canadian broadcasters including CBC, CTV, Global, and Corus her shows have broadcast internationally – Channel Four, Discovery, PBS, Turner Network Television among others.
In addition to award-winning children’s drama series and MOWs, Pryor has produced and directed over 100 hours of documentary programming and won numerous international awards. She is the recipient of Hollywood’s prestigious Humanitas Prize “for film and television writing intended to promote human dignity, meaning, and freedom,” the US Wilbur Award which recognize excellence in the communication of religious issues, values and themes in secular media, and The Japan Prize for “Innovation in Direction.” In Canada she has won several Gemini and Leo nominations and awards.
Currently Hilary is Executive Producer and returning Director of the second season of Moosemeat & Marmalade, a food documentary series for APTN, and producer/director of A Change of Mind , a one hour documentary about the societal impact of brain injury.
DAVID MALYSHEFF – DOCUMENTARIAN
David Malysheff has over 25 years of extensive television production experience in film and broadcast video formats, including HDTV. His company, Gamut Productions recently acquired new Panasonic High Definition Cameras: an AJ-HDX-900p, the Panasonic 1400 deck, and a Final Cut Studio 2 with Kona3 card for uncompressed HD editing.
David’s skill, energy, professional attitude and sense of humor are his mainstays. He has shot for hundreds of commercial, corporate and television program producers whose clients include: Starbucks, Nortel, Canadian Tire, British Columbia Ministry of Tourism, International Woodworkers of America (IWA) and the Department of National Defense.
David began his career at CHEK Television as a cinematographer for the commercial production department. In 1986, he co-founded PanVideo Productions where he produced, shot, and edited numerous television programs before launching Gamut Productions in 1992.
His broadcast projects include Director of Photography on the travel series, “Best Places to Kiss”, which airs on the Travel Channel and WTN; Vision Television’s “Virtues, A Family Affair”, and the CTV documentary “Cake Night.” Recently David completed photography on, “The Fires That Burn –The Life of Sister Elaine” for Vision TV; “Checklist: A Measure of Evil”, a one-hour documentary for CTV; The Seventh Day (Adventists) “Revelations From the Lost Pages of History” on HDTV; and “From Bella Coola To Berlin”, also in High Definition.
David has worked as Director of Photography for the documentary series “Off the Map” and “Spectacular Spas”. He is often found working as a camera operator for CBC National, CBC NewsWorld and Global, and has also worked for ESPN, TSN, NBC, ABC, Prime, CTV, the Discovery Channel and Fox Sports Weekend.
Location work has taken David to England, Africa (Senegal, Mali and Tanzania), Japan, The Philippines, Finland, Cuba, India, The Bahamas, Russia, California, New York, Louisiana, Texas, Hawaii, Alaska, Germany, and numerous locations throughout Canada and virtually everywhere in British Columbia.
David has worked on many award-winning projects including;
- “The Healing Circle – Return To Kuper Island” — Dream Speakers Award: Best Cinematography
- “Take Off” — Gemini nomination
- “Mama June” — Gemini nomination
- “Take Off” Children’s Broadcast Institute — Award of Excellence
- Yorkton Film Festival — Golden Sheaf Award
- “One Hit Leads To Another” U.S. Film and Video Festival — Silver Screen Award
Recently David completed the History Television documentary entitled The Immortal Beaver, starring Harrison Ford. The Immortal Beaver chronicles a piece of Canadian aviation and engineering history, the de Havilland Beaver.