Ms. Miller’s collaborator is director Alex Rotaru, also an amateur pianist, whose work on the PBS documentary The Hobart Shakespeareans was recognized with the 2006 Christopher Award, the Gold Special Jury Award at the 2005 WorldFest Houston, and Outstanding Achievement in Documentary at the 2005 Newport Beach International Film Festival, among others.
Mr. Rotaru’s numerous credits also include his new hour-long documentary, Kids with Cameras about autistic childrens’ creative genius, and in post-production Shakespeare High, a feature documentary starring Kevin Spacey, about the oldest high-school theater competition in the US, which changes the lives of disadvantaged, at-risk teens.
In speaking about the making of the documentary on the competition, Mr. Rotaru said, “This is a film that can capture a lot of hearts. We wanted to give our audience a glimpse into the world of these gifted amateur pianists who have found a way to keep their passion for music alive while leading full and fascinating lives – in the hope of inspiring others to do the same.”
He added: “I loved playing piano as a child in Romania, but my parents worried about a musician’s life under Communism. I returned to the keyboard while studying physics at MIT and film at USC, yet felt discouraged about reaching performance level. They Came to Play was a unique opportunity to affirm to myself and the world that one can pursue a dream later in life successfully. Seeing these wonderful amateur pianists balancing professional careers in Paris or Philadelphia, Boston or Berlin proves that passion and practice can unlock the life-changing power of music for everyone. Now I own a piano again…”
ALEX ROTARU, director