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Film about world’s oldest known Holocaust survivor Alice Herz-Sommer wins Oscar a week after her death

Alice Herz-Sommer. Picture: Polly Hancock. Alice Herz-Sommer. Picture: Polly Hancock.

Monday, March 3, 2014
10:58 AM

A documentary about the world’s oldest known Holocaust survivor who died a week ago, aged 110, was among the Oscar winners at the 86th Academy Awards.

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Filmmakers Malcolm Clarke (left) and Nick Reed in the press room with their Oscar awards for The Lady In Number 6: Music Saved My Life. Picture: PA Wire/Ian West.Filmmakers Malcolm Clarke (left) and Nick Reed in the press room with their Oscar awards for The Lady In Number 6: Music Saved My Life. Picture: PA Wire/Ian West.

The Lady In Number 6: Music Saved My Life, exploring the life of late Belsize Park resident Alice Herz-Sommer, beat off competition from four other films to win the Oscar in the Documentary Short Subject category at last night’s glitzy awards ceremony in Los Angeles.

Filmmakers Malcolm Clarke and Nick Reed picked up the award exactly a week after the death of Ms Herz-Sommer, of Belsize Grove.

Accepting the award, director Mr Clarke, who now lives in Canada but learned his trade at the BBC and Granada TV, dedicated the win to Ms Herz-Sommer’s “extraordinary capacity for joy and her amazing capacity for forgiveness”.

Ms Herz-Sommer spent two years with her young son Stephan in Theresienstadt concentration camp in the city of Terezin, located in what is now the Czech Republic, during the Second World War.

As an accomplished pianist, she managed to avoid deportation with her son to Auschwitz through her performances in numerous concerts during her time in Theresienstadt.

Survivors who witnessed the concerts recounted how the beauty of Ms Herz-Sommer’s playing transported them away from the horrors of their daily life and offered them hope.

Ms Herz-Sommer shielded Stephan from the horrors of Theresienstadt for two years before being liberated by the Russians in 1945.

The film will now be available to audiences in the USA and Canada via the Netflix internet-streaming service as part of a distribution deal struck between Netflix and the film’s producers.

Negotiations are underway to bring the film to a UK audience on Netflix.

Mr Reed, who co-produced the film with Mr Clarke, said in a statement: “Telling Alice’s story was a life-changing experience for everyone involved with the film.

“We are so glad to partner with Netflix so that their viewers will be able to enjoy Alice’s infectious love of life and bright spirit.

“Netflix viewers and future generations will be able to learn so many life lessons from this most amazing woman.”

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