AJFF Review: ‘Itzhak’ a Musical Masterpiece
ArtsAtlanta Jewish Film Festival

AJFF Review: ‘Itzhak’ a Musical Masterpiece

The documentary captures the life, work and heritage of world-famous violinist Itzhak Perlman.

Enter Itzhak Perlman dressed in a Mets uniform, cap backward, and riding on a scooter to play “Take Me out to the Ballgame.”

It’s the opening scene of the documentary “Itzhak” and is an exhibition of what will unfold: the story of the gifted and active musician, the devoted husband and family man, the philanthropist, the sensitive teacher, the good friend, the humble humanitarian, and the man proud of his Jewish heritage.

This is a celebration of his life.

In this movie of top-notch clarity and acoustics, we see Itzhak and Toby, his wife, in their Manhattan apartment and their New York City life. We also see Tel Aviv, his home, and pieces of his performances around the world.

At 72, Itzhak, crippled as a child from polio, has aged well. Handsome and reflective, he elaborates on his challenges in pursuing the dream of being a successful violinist.

His parents sacrificed much to support and encourage their talented child to play the violin. When they realized his ability, his needs came first, even though others first saw his disability.

At 13, he was asked by Ed Sullivan to perform, even though he and his wife believe that perhaps Sullivan just wanted to “help the poor cripple.” He found his way to Juilliard from there and still performs and instructs music students.

This documentary is also about Toby and their marriage. Toby explains that she is his biggest supporter but also his biggest critic. A musician herself, she adores his music and explains how “we are lucky that we have the ability to be moved by music.”

Only a handful of people are known worldwide by their first name. Itzhak Perlman is one of them.

(Atlanta Jewish Film Festival screenings: Jan. 27, 1 p.m., Hollywood; Jan. 30, 7:20 p.m., Atlantic Station; Feb. 2, 1:35 p.m., Hollywood; Feb. 4, 8:30 p.m., Springs; Feb. 10, 8:35 p.m., Tara)

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