A newly preserved Playing for Time on DVD / by KirstenStudio

I have to write a little something about the Paley Center's screening and panel discussion of Playing for Time yesterday afternoon, even if I have already blogged about it before hand. I attended the 12:15pm, 3 hours screening of the 1980 television special, Playing for Time, starring Vanessa Redgrave and Jane Alexander on Sunday.  The screenings were in celebration of the 2 part CBS series' 30th anniversary and its dvd release by Olive Films.  Playing for Time was recently preserved in part by a Women's Film Preservation Fund grant.  WFPF also co-presented yesterday's festivities, which included a screening, panel discussion and reception.

The screening itself was remarkably intense and Ms. Redgrave was part of the audience.  I can't imagine what it was like for her to see it again.  She admitted during the panel talk that she hadn't seen it in 30 years.

At the post screening discussion, hosted by The Palely Center's President and CEO, Pat Mitchell and included Vanessa Redgrave, Jane Alexander and producer, Linda Yellen.  Playing for Time is an Arthur Miller written teleplay that won a total of 4 Emmies and Peabody.  The story depicts Fania Fenelon's experiences as a Jewish cabaret singer in Paris during the Nazi invasion who ends up at the Auschwitz death camp. She and other musicians struggle for their lives by performing music for the soldiers and prisoners who those soldiers are there to kill.

As Ms. Redgrave put it during the panel, artists do projects like Playing for Time because it's important for audiences to never forget and to have a better understanding of what happened. It's important to remember what it is to be human and to use the common language of the arts to bring down walls.  Sounds kind of hokey when I type it out but believe me, when Vanessa Redgrave says it and in her own words, you are a moved to tears.  At least I was.  She is a veteran actor and activist.  In other words, she's been artistically and politically active for a long time and she's still so impassioned.  It's very inspiring. The panel talk was full of production insights into bringing Playing for Time to life which was very interesting (shot in Pennsylvania with 3 different directors - who'd have thunk?), but also became an expression of how these films and televisions are so important, and how unfortunately these types of teleplays are things of the past.

Check out the DVD at Olive Films here