Of the many tales told in the more than two dozen films featured in this year's Chesapeake Film Festival, few are as poignant as the true story of how music saved the life of a little boy trapped in the nightmarish world of a Nazi concentration camp.
In candid testimony that is both horrifying and heartwarming, David Arben stands out among the musicians profiled in producer-director Andres Faucher's "The Legacy," a 98-minute documentary to be shown in the Avalon Theatre at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 20, the final day of the festival's three-day run.
Filmgoers are promised a special treat following the screening with a live performance by Arben, a world-renowned violinist and the former associate concert master of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Audience members also will have an opportunity to chat with Arben and Faucher during a Q&A period after the show.
In the movie, Arben recounts that even before he had reached the age of 3 he knew he wanted to be a musician. When he was a young boy, his father took him to a barbershop where the barbers, in between customers, played the violin and sang. By the time he was 9, he concluded that he would study under the famed violinist, teacher and conductor Efram Zimbalist (the father of the American actor who starred in such series as "77 Sunset Strip" and "The FBI").
The budding prodigy's vision of studying classical music abruptly disappeared in September 1939 when Germany invaded his native Poland, marking the start of World War II. Like millions of other European Jews and minorities, Arben and his family were rounded up and sent to an almost certain death in one of the Nazi concentration camps.
"Everything was total destruction," Arben remembers in the film. "That was the beginning of a horrendous existence."
The 14-year-old Arben, who was moved from one camp to another, never saw his family again. Finally, while imprisoned as inmate number 14088 at the Flossenburg, Germany, camp, Arben was singled out by a prison officer who also happened to be a Polish Jew and assigned to entertain him and his woman by playing the violin during dinner in the officer's private quarters.
How his musical talents saved him from a firing squad and, after the war ended, brought him before the violinist Zimbalist and ultimately to the United States is a story about hope and a recipe for living in the face of hardship and the struggle to become the best for the benefit of the many.
Tickets for the screening of "The Legacy" can be purchased online at www.chesapeakefilmfestival.com or at Coffee Cat, 1 Goldsborough St., Easton.