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September 2014
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Documentary Filmmaker Phil Grabsky at WFMT

Filmmaker Phil Grabsky at WFMT, photo by Noel Morris

Filmmaker Phil Grabsky at WFMT, photo by Noel Morris

When Phil Grabsky looks out into the world, he sees stories that need to be told. As an independent filmmaker, he’s followed his passion from Brazil to Angola, from Chernobyl to Afghanistan. He also has a fascination for great composers.

In Search of Chopin

“His grave in Paris remains a place of pilgrimage and his music continues to sell out concert halls worldwide – but who exactly was this man who was terrified of public performance, who fled his Polish homeland for Paris never to return, took up with the most notorious transvestite in France, rarely gave public performances and, despite a life of ill-health, wrote some of the deepest and most powerful music ever written? How exactly did a young Polish boy rise to such heady heights?

For four years, Phil Grabsky has traveled the globe in his quest to lay bare the life and music of Chopin.”

—Seventh Art Productions

Phil Grabsky is in Chicago to introduce his new film In Search of Chopin. He stopped by WFMT to play Guest Host with Kerry Frumkin, and offered a mixture, including Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Mozart, and (of course) Chopin. “I can’t understand why someone wouldn’t want to explore Chopin.” According to Mr. Grabsky, with all the negativity in the world, it’s essential to immerse oneself in the works of people who are so inspired.


Phil Grabsky speaks with Kerry Frumkin, photo by Noel Morris

He talks about a moment in the film, In Search of Chopin, when pianist and performance artist Hershey Felder wonders how so much talent could be poured into one person [Chopin]. “Is it a gift from God?”

According to Mr. Grabsky, one can’t help musing about such things, but the challenge is to train the lens upon “what can be explained.” That is, stitching together a narrative through the art, the people, and the events of a subject’s life.

In Search of Chopin is the latest in Phil Grabsky’s composer series which includes In Search of Haydn, In Search of Beethoven, and In Search of Mozart.

Click to learn more about Phil Grabsky and his company Seventh Art Productions.

In Search of Chopin runs at the Gene Siskel Film Center through October 2nd. Director Phil Grabsky will be present for audience discussion at all screenings, Friday-Monday, September 19-22. The 2:00 pm shows on Saturday and Sunday will be moderated by WFMT’s Andrew Patner.

A partial filmography:

2014 Matisse Live (Documentary)
2014 In Search of Chopin (Documentary)
2013 Exhibition on Screen: Vermeer and Music (Documentary)
2013 Exhibition on Screen: Manet – Portraying Life (Documentary)
2012 Leonardo Live (Documentary)
2012 In Search of Haydn (Documentary)
2011 The Boy Mir (Documentary)
2010 Swallows and Amazons: Bristol Old Vic Sets Sail (Documentary)
2009 Making War Horse (TV Movie documentary)
2009 Marlow meets… (TV Series documentary)
2009 In Search of Beethoven (Documentary)
2007 Escape from Luanda (Documentary)
2006 Half Life: A Journey to Chernobyl (Documentary short)
2006 In Search of Mozart (Documentary)
2005 Tim Marlow on… MOMA (TV Mini-Series documentary)
2004 The Boy Who Plays on the Buddhas of Bamiyan (Documentary)
2003 The Nude in Art (TV Mini-Series documentary)
2002 The Surprising History of Sex and Love (TV Movie documentary)
2002 The Surprising History of Egypt (TV Movie documentary)
2002 The Surprising History of Rome (TV Movie documentary)
2001 Muhammad Ali: Through the Eyes of the World (Documentary)

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