This closing night documentary feature is further proof that one is never too old to help repair the world. “Saul & Ruby, To Life” is the distinguished filmmaker Tod Lending’s effort to chronicle the musical careers of two South Florida Holocaust survivors to re-create the music that helped them survive those terrible years during World War II.
The two musicians, Saul Dreier, who is now 95, and Ruby Sosnowicz, who is 90, naturally enough call their musical duo the Holocaust Survivor Band. During the early years friends and family derided their efforts, but they persevered.
Survival, after all, even when life presented challenges, was something they knew a lot about.
Gradually their wit and charm began to take hold and their audiences grew increasingly larger and more enthusiastic. The two men even were able to bring their music back to Poland, where they were born and where they experienced the loss of so many family members during the Holocaust.
The film, which was created over 2 1/2 years, took on a certain urgency for Lending because of the advanced age of his two subjects. Indeed, the wives of the two men died while the film was being made. But the warm-hearted enthusiasm for life by these two old-timers is undiminished in the film. Festival goers on the final night are likely to leave this year’s closer with a new spring in their step and a greater appreciation for the possibilities that life offers.
Lending, who took on a number of tasks during the film, was for a time both the cinematographer and the director. He will be interviewed on the closing afternoon and evening about his experiences producing the film. It will be screened at the Byers Theatre at the Sandy Spring Performing Arts Center, which is the flagship venue for the 20th anniversary of the AJFF.