The Winners | Chicago Reader

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An antidote to the sensationalism and banality of music biopics like Shine and Hilary and Jackie, this exquisitely crafted documentary concerns four violinists and a pianist, most of whom seemed destined for a degree of success they either didn?t achieve or couldn?t sustain. Nineties interviews with Philipp Hirschhorn, Berl Senofsky, Mikhail Bezverkhny, Gidon Kremer, and Yevgeny Moguilevsky are combined with footage of them performing at a prestigious Brussels competition in the 50s, 60s, and 70s; the juxtapositions aren?t mere devices for moving between the past and present but provide access to the musicians? perspectives on their careers, as when Hirschhorn watches himself on videotape or Senofsky marvels at an old audio recording filmmakers Paul Cohen and David van Tijn have unearthed. Off camera someone poses hard questions, but instead of truncating the answers to fit the agenda of each sequence, the filmmakers revel in long silences, as when Hirschhorn pauses to think, his face a map of meanings summarized but hardly transcended by his eventual response, or when Senofsky decides the filmmakers might want to see the medal he won and begins rooting through drawers for it.

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