THIRTEEN’s American Masters Presents Exclusive U.S. Broadcast Premiere of Itzhak Perlman Documentary October 14 on PBS
Features new interviews with the world-renowned violinist, his family, friends and colleagues including Billy Joel, Alan Alda, pianist Martha Argerich and cellist Mischa Maisky
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. American Masters: Itzhak premieres nationwide Sunday, October 14 at 10 p.m. on PBS (check local listings) and will be available to stream the following day via pbs.org/americanmasters and PBS apps.
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. American Masters: 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. The film will be available on DVD November 6 via Kino Lorber.
Launched in 1986 on PBS, American Masters has earned 28 Emmy Awards — including 10 for Outstanding Non-Fiction Series and five for Outstanding Non-Fiction Special — 13 Peabodys, an Oscar, three Grammys, two Producers Guild Awards and many other honors. To further explore the lives and works of masters past and present, American Masters offers streaming video of select films, outtakes, filmmaker interviews, the American Masters Podcast, educational resources and more. The series is a production of THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC for WNET and also seen on the WORLD channel.
American Masters: Itzhak is a production of Voyeur Films and American Masters Pictures. Helen Yum is editor. Alison Chernick is director and producer. Penny Lieberman is executive producer. For American Masters, Michael Kantor is executive producer.
Funding for American Masters: Itzhak is provided by Derfner Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, The Paul E. Singer Foundation, The Star Family Foundation, the New York Women in Film & Television through the Loreen Arbus Disability Awareness Grant, and the Leslie and Roslyn Goldstein Foundation.
Major support for American Masters is provided by AARP. Additional support provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Rosalind P. Walter, The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, Judith and Burton Resnick, Ellen and James S. Marcus, Vital Projects Fund, the Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation, Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, the Lillian Goldman Programming Endowment, the André and Elizabeth Kertész Foundation, the Michael and Helen Schaffer Foundation and public television viewers.
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WNET is America’s flagship PBS station and parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21. WNET also operates NJTV, the statewide public media network in New Jersey. Through its broadcast channels, three cable services (THIRTEEN PBSKids, Create and World) and online streaming sites, WNET brings quality arts, education and public affairs programming to more than five million viewers each week. WNET produces and presents such acclaimed PBS series as Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, PBS NewsHour Weekend and a range of documentaries, children’s programs, and local news and cultural offerings. WNET’s groundbreaking series for children and young adults include Get the Math, Oh Noah! And Cyberchase as well as Mission US, the award-winning interactive history experience. WNET highlights the tri-state’s unique culture and diverse communities through NYC-ARTS, Theater Close-Up, NJTV News with Mary Alice Williams and MetroFocus, the daily multi-platform news magazine focusing on the New York region. In addition, WNET produces online-only programming including the award-winning series about gender identity, First Person. Through multi-platform initiatives Chasing the Dream: Poverty and Opportunity in America and Peril and Promise: The Challenge of Climate Change, WNET showcases the human stories around these issues and promising solutions. In 2015, THIRTEEN launched Passport, an online streaming service which allows members to see new and archival THIRTEEN and PBS programming anytime, anywhere: www.thirteen.org/passport.
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