Zuzana: Music is Life

Dirs. Peter GetzelsHarriet Gordon Getzels
(83 min, Czech RepublicUnited States, 2017)
English Czech with English subtitles
DC Premiere

The triumphant story told by Zuzana Ruzickova, 90, and how she became a world-famous harpsichordist and interpreter of Bach in Czechoslovakia, despite three years in concentration camps and forty years of communist persecution. Zuzana’s story is remarkable not just because she fulfilled her childhood dream of a career in music; but also in how she navigated a lifetime of political and anti-Semitic persecution, never letting go of her belief that Bach’s music transcended human suffering. Dispatched by the communists to perform in hundreds of concerts and competitions, Zuzana Ruzickova became a tour-de-force abroad, and a source of foreign currency for the regime at home. She is the only person to have recorded Bach’s entire keyboard works, which were released in November 2016 by Warner Music. Zuzana Ruzickova’s story transcends the personal, in a deeply affecting look at the redemptive power of art during Europe’s turbulent 20th century.

Co-presented by Aberfoyle Baroque Embassy of the Czech Republic United States Holocaust Memorial Museum


Sunday, May 21, 6:20 pm
More tickets released!
Bethesda Row Cinema
7235 Woodmont Avenue
Bethesda, MD

Tuesday, May 23, 6:15 pm
E Street Cinema
555 11th Street NW
Washington, DC

*For sold out screenings, a rush line will be available at the venue one hour prior to the start time where you will have the opportunity to wait in line and purchase tickets as they become available.

E Street Cinema elevators are unavailable for the remainder of the Festival. If you can't use an escalator, and have purchased tickets to an E Street screening, contact boxoffice@wjff.org for a credit or refund.


Both screenings followed by a Q&A with filmmakers Harriet Gordon Getzels and Peter Getzels, moderated by Bret Werb.

Harriet Gordon Getzels, together with Peter Getzels, has a long track record of producing, directing and writing award-winning films made for British, American and European television. Their subjects range from character-driven narratives to cutting edge science, and the fringes of religion. Her digital narratives and website productions have taken on subjects from the environment to brain science and addiction. Getzels is co-owner of Getzels Gordon Productions, originally based in Oxford, England and now located in Washington DC.

Peter Getzels is an award-winning producer, director and cinematographer of feature documentaries and an Emmy-award winning series made in China. He has filmed in over 35 countries on science, adventure, anthropology and religion. He is also co-creator and director of the high-end PBS series Closer to Truth, featuring 8 Nobel Prize winners and now in its 18th season. Peter trained in Anthropology at the London School of Economics, and has produced over 120 hours of television for National Geographic, BBC, Channel 4, Discovery, Canal Plus, ZDF, CCTV and PBS. He attended the National Film and Television School in Beaconsfield, England with his partner, Harriet Gordon Getzels.

Employed in various music-related capacities at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC for the past 20 years, Bret Werb has programmed the museum’s long-running chamber music series, curated its Music of the Holocaust website, and researched and produced a series of recordings of ghetto, camp and partisan songs.  A contributor to The New Grove Dictionary of Music & Musicians, The Oxford Handbook of Holocaust Studies, and other reference works, Werb holds a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from UCLA, lectures widely, and has collaborated on film, theater, recording, and concert projects.


Ticket sales are now open for the general public. Please note that day-of ticket sales are only available at the door (space permitting). An on-site Box Office will open one hour prior to the start of the first screening at that venue. If an event sells out, there will be a Rush Line and tickets will be released if they become available. All Saturday daytime screenings are pre-sale only in observance of Shabbat. If you need help using our online ticketing system please view our Step-By-Step guide or fill out the Website Support Request Form if you have an inquiry.

Website Support Online Ticketing Guide

E Street Cinema elevators are unavailable for the remainder of the Festival. If you can’t use an escalator, and have purchased tickets to an E Street screening, contact boxoffice@wjff.org for a credit or refund.

More tickets have been released for the May 21 screening of Zuzana: Music is Life!

This event finished on May 24, 2017.