They Came To Play

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Alex Rotaru’s 2008 documentary, They Came To Play, is well worth a watch, especially if you love classical piano. The film follows several competitors through the annual Van Cliburn competition for (dedicated) amateurs, and it’s quite inspiring in its own quirky way. If you don’t love this genre of music, no need to worry – the concert footage has been cut to (quite impressive) snippets of no more than a minute or two. Although Rotaru clearly appreciates the artistry of the pianists, he’s far more interested in their rich, non-musical lives. Each one is an entertaining character. Ultimately, the film is an ode to the making (or appreciation) of art for art’s sake, and the joy (or horror) of competition for competition’s sake. We found it streaming on NetFlix. Here’s the trailer-