Rohan Spong | The Songs They Sang

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The Songs They Sang

by Rohan Spong

The Songs They Sang DVD is a documentary about the musical performances inside the Vilna Ghetto during the Holocaust. It explores the resilience of the Jewish people who created art in the face of horrific persecution. (
Genre: World: Yiddish
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  Song Share Time Download
1. the Songs They Sang (Feature Documentary)
Deborah Kayser, Michael Kieran Harvey, Caerwen Martin, Aaron Barnden
0:00 album only


Album Notes
“A sensitive and stirring swirling of tragedy and music.” Sarah Ward, Arts Hub

The Songs They Sang
Director: Rohan Spong
Producers: Anna Monea & Amadeo Marquez-Perez

The Songs They Sang is a documentary on the musical performances inside the Vilna Ghetto, Lithuania during the Holocaust. It explores the resilience of the Jewish people who created art in the face of horrific persecutions.

Before the war, Vilna was an important cultural and spiritual city. Many of its residents were Jewish artists, writers, musicians, playwrights, actors and poets of significant repute. In the film, survivors recall the German soldiers invading Vilna in June 1941 and the continuing terror, which engulfed its citizens. Within days persecutions began and from an estimated Jewish population of 60,000 approximately 20,000 were murdered in the nearby Ponar Forest. Those remaining were forced into what became known as the Vilna Ghetto.

During the two years of the ghetto’s existence from 1941 to 1943, starvation, disease, ongoing mass executions at Ponar and deportation to concentration camps, reduced the ghetto’s population from an estimated 40,000 people to a few hundred. In January 1942, theatre productions emerged in the Vilna Ghetto; they included Yiddish and European classics, and original plays and revues. Also, musical performances, poetry readings and seminars took place. These events gave the audience a few critical hours of “forgetfulness” as a reprieve from their terrible circumstances.

The Songs They Sang focuses on two poets, Avrom Sutzkever and Shmerke Kaczerginski. Sutzkever is widely considered to be the most significant Yiddish poet of the 20th Century.

Every song in the film was created in the Vilna Ghetto. The poems and writings of its residents, including Sutzkever and Kaczerginski, became lyrics, which were set to popular pre-war melodies or to original compositions. They became an important documentation of daily life in Vilna. One Vilna survivor said, “Every song was always finished with hope and belief that we will survive.”

The Australian composer Joseph Giovinazzo composed the film’s soundtrack.

ASPECT RATIO: 16:9 - Widescreen COUNTRY: Australia

(c) Anna Monea & Amadeo Marquez Perez ALL RIGHTS RESERVED



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