A New York Times Critics’ Pick, They Came To Play, chronicles the International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs, hosted by the Van Cliburn Foundation. The film follows several colorful, multi-faceted competitors and outstanding amateur musicians, working to balance the demands of their families and careers with their love of the piano. Featuring commentary from Van Cliburn and gold medalists of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, together with brilliant performances of works by Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, Barber, and more, They Came To Play is a wonderfully heartfelt film that inspires the artist in all of us.
“Beautifully executed…you can feel the joy and surprise that must have gone through the concert hall and the winner.”
Everyone has a passion, a secret dream; something they’ve always wanted to do. But how many people actually pursue that dream and make it a reality? THEY CAME TO PLAY, an emotional, humorous and riveting documentary film about contestants in an international competition for amateur pianists, inspires audiences with its uplifting answer. Through their own personal stories and outstanding performances, these passionate musicians show how it’s possible to be reunited with your desire – whoever you are, at any age.
At the International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs, top amateur pianists from all over the world – ranging from self-taught to classically-trained, aged 35 to nearly 80 – convene in Fort Worth, Texas, for a week of competition, music and camaraderie at this prestigious event hosted by The Van Cliburn Foundation.
The competitors include a Moldovan-born dental assistant living in Oakland, CA, an African-American physician/Tango dancer living in New York City, a Parisian retired national tennis player and coach, a first-time college graduate from a blue-collar family in Oklahoma, a Texan Jeweler of Greek-Jewish descent who composes variations on the Hatikvah in honor of his relatives lost in the Holocaust, and a professor/ventriloquist living in Philadelphia. THEY CAME TO PLAY 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.
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.
Run time: 91 minutes
Higher Education DVD + PPR, Higher Education DVD + PPR + Streaming License, K-12 and Nonprofit Groups DVD + PPR
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Alex Rotaru: Director
Alex Rotaru is an amateur pianist whose work on the PBS documentary The Hobart Shakespeareans was recognized with the 2006 Christopher Award, the Gold Special Jury Award at the 2005 WorldFest Houston, and Outstanding Achievement in Documentary at the 2005 Newport Beach International Film Festival, among others. Mr. Rotaru’s numerous credits also include his new hour-long documentary, Kids with Cameras, and in post-production Shakespeare High, a feature documentary.
Lori Miller: Producer
Lori Miller is known for making such commercial films as Panic, starring William H. Macy, Donald Sutherland, Tracey Ullman, and Neve Campbell; and The Last Supper, starring Cameron Diaz and Bill Paxton.