They Came to Play

Director: Alex Rotaru
Total Running Time: 91 minutes
Release Date: 2008

Life comes between us and our dreams. Sometimes, we are lucky enough to be reunited. THEY CAME TO PLAY is an uplifting feature-length documentary chronicling the passion, pressure and potential surrounding The Van Cliburn International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs, a prestigious event which reunites seventy-five of the world’s best amateur pianists with their dreams, if only for a brief time. Players from all over the world, ranging from self-taught to classically-trained, aged thirty-five to almost eighty, convene in Fort Worth, Texas for a week of intense competition, music and camaraderie. Entertaining, irreverent and, above all, inspiring, the film provides an intimate look into the lives of these colorful, multi-faceted competitors as they strive to balance the demands of work and family with their love of music. Years of dedicated preparation culminate in critical performances before a professional jury and discerning audience during three nerve-wracking elimination rounds. Having made their careers outside of music in fields ranging from real estate to medicine, professional tennis to education, the competition represents the fulfillment of long-deferred dreams. For competitors who have faced such extraordinary challenges as drug addiction, AIDS, or political asylum, the competition is also a triumph over adversity. For all, it represents an overwhelming desire to express a deeper side of themselves, musically and otherwise. Commentary from noted American pianist Van Cliburn and gold medalists from the Foundation’s professional competition, along with outstanding performances of great classical masterworks—from Beethoven to Alkan and from Rachmaninoff to Barber—complement the action in a film that celebrates the creator and the competitor in each of us.

2008 Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival – Audience Award, Best Documentary
2008 Bucharest B-EST Int’l Film Festival – Best Documentary
2008 SENE Film, Music and Arts Festival – Best Documentary
2008 Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival – Official Selection
2008 LoneStar Int’l Film Festival – Official Selection
2008 Syracuse International Film Festival – Official Selection

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