The 16th annual Miami Jewish Film Festival will feature directors, actors and musical composers from all over world — including Miami Beach’s Fredrick Kaufman.
The classically trained composer, who studied at the Juilliard School of Music is the former director of Florida International University’s School of Music, was delighted to contribute music to one of the festival’s feature films, Arnošt Lustig Nine Lives. The documentary follows the life of Lustig, one of Czechoslovakia’s most renowned Jewish authors. He was only in the seventh grade when the Nazis invaded, survived three concentration camps and escaped a train carrying him to his death.
Kaufman, who worked in the Czech Republic, had a friend who suggested that the film’s director use his music.
“I have written several works that have a Holocaust theme to them,” said Kaufman. “He played my work to the director. It was a marriage of convenience, basically. It worked for both of us.”
Kaufman was the founding director of the music school, a position he held for 10 years. He also established the acclaimed FIU Music Festival. He currently holds the honorary title of professor emeritus in composition at FIU.
The 76-year-old, who has performed all over the world and composed over 130 works, felt especially honored as a Jewish man to have his music featured in the film about the late Lustig, who died in Prague in 2011.
“This is a marvelous author,” he said. “To do have done a film a documentary on his life was exciting and them asking me to use some of my music for this film was very gratifying.”
The film is one of the 25 films that will be shown during the 10-day film festival. Ellen Wedner, the director of the film festival for the past 10 years, said the event is a labor of love. Watching films from other Jewish film festivals and knowing her South Florida audience helped her to make the decisions on what movies will be shown.
“We have a wide array of features and short films,” said Wedner. “There is something for everyone.”
The festival opens Saturday at Miami Beach’s Colony Theater, 1040 Lincoln Rd., with the film Hava Nagila—which follows the history of the famous song. Most films will be shown at the theaters on Miami Beach, but there are locations in Coral Gables and North Miami for movie goers to view films.
Arnošt Lustig Nine Lives will be shown at 3 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 30, at Regal Cinema South Beach 18, 1120 Lincoln Rd.
“What’s nice is that we are everywhere. So people can come to one theater or come to them all,” said Wedner.