Touching Documentary 'Joe's Violin' Nominated for Academy Award

Tuesday, January 24, 2017 - 11:51 AM

 Joseph Feingold, Brianna Perez and filmmaker Kahane Cooperman at a screening of 'Joe's Violin.' Joseph Feingold, Brianna Perez and filmmaker Kahane Cooperman at a screening of 'Joe's Violin.' (Kim Nowacki/WQXR)

Joe’s Violin, a story of the emotional musical bond between a Polish-American Holocaust survivor and a young Bronx violinist, has been nominated for an Academy Award for best documentary short subject.

The short film, directed and produced by Kahane Cooperman, begins with the eponymous Joseph Feingold. After World War II, during which his family was broken apart by the Holocaust, he awaited passage to America in a displaced persons camp. There, he bought a violin, and the music evoked the joyful memories of his childhood.

Decades later, Feingold donated his violin on the first day of the first WQXR instrument drive, an ongoing initiative that places used instruments into area schools that need them most. The story of Joe and his violin continued its unbelievable journey when it went to the Bronx Global Leadership Institute for Girls, a charter school in the nation’s poorest congressional district. The school gives students a space for artistic expression and includes a comprehensive violin program. As Music Director Koekoe Tunaka Suwan says in the film, “every student learns to play the violin ... from day one.”

One particularly gifted student, Brianna Perez, was identified as the recipient of Joe’s violin. The film traces their initial meeting and blooming friendship, as they connect over the music that is so close to their souls.

You can watch the film here, courtesy of The New Yorker. Below, revisit a conversation with Perez, Feingold and the filmmakers in The Greene Space at WQXR.

The 89th Oscars will be on ABC at 7 pm (ET) on Feb. 26.

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