In Talent Has Hunger, renowned documentarian Josh Aronson follows legendary NEC faculty member and his students over seven-year period.
March 11 Opening Night Screening at Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Launches Two-Week Run
On March 11, 2016 at 7pm, Talent Has Hunger will have its first screening at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, followed by a two-week run at the MFA. Academy Award–nominated director Josh Aronson shot the documentary over a seven-year period at New England Conservatory with cello faculty member Paul Katz.
As students come for lessons, masterclasses, and discussions in his NEC studio, Katz offers a unique front-row seat to film viewers. He commands an array of approaches and tools from his 50 years of teaching to engage the variety of temperaments, emotions, and natural talents of each student, one as young as 10 years old.
Katz’s goal becomes clear in the course of the film: to elevate the sense of the possible for each student and to invite him or her to access fully the music within themselves. The extraordinary physical control needed to master the instrument is revealed in the film, but the more poetic revelation is to witness a master teacher maneuver the delicate sensibilities and tender young egos of his students, making them feel safe, emotionally open, and confident to walk on stage to play at their highest artistic level.
Distributor First Run Features—one of America's largest independent distributors of documentaries and art films—is working with Aronson to bring Talent Has Hunger to audiences across the United States and beyond, beginning with this two-week run at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Katz discussed his role in the documentary.
“I am thrilled and honored to be part of this wonderful documentary. This film is about teaching and learning, how the common love of our art brings teacher and student together, and how mastery is thus passed through generations. It is not about me, but a tribute to all whose lives are propelled by the incomprehensible power of music.
"For the music-loving public, it is a window into the mysterious world of the artist, the passion that can grip and sustain a young player, and the years of sacrifice, dedication, and perseverance one needs to fulfill their talent.”
Talent Has Hunger allows an appreciation of concert musicians in an entirely new light. Paradoxically, the ultimate goal is to hide the years of learning—to make it look effortless as they perform with grace in front of a faceless and often critical audience—overcoming sweat, jitters, nausea, and fear. What shines through this film is that the study of music and the cello is a metaphor for the mastery of virtually any human endeavor. Through Katz’s actions and words, it is clear that this deep study of music not only prepares wonderful musicians, but builds self-esteem and a cultural and aesthetic character that will be profoundly important throughout his students’ lives. The film is a window into the mysterious world of the artist, the passion that can grip and sustain a young player from childhood through the last days of life, and the years of sacrifice and dedication a budding artist needs to fulfill their talent.
Director Josh Aronson discussed what it was like to film at NEC with Katz.
“As a filmmaker, walking into NEC was a total immersion. In the halls, passing busy practice rooms, hearing an orchestra rehearsal around the corner, hearing snippets of students' conversation—I was in an inspiring universe of the highest levels of dedicated student musicians. A great conservatory in a classical building in the heart of Boston. It was an inspiration.
"Each of Paul's NEC students responded to him in a powerful and unique way, and that led me to shape Talent Has Hunger not as a film about his teaching methods, rather, I saw that the film would be about the power of a great teacher to influence and invite each of his students to manifest his own unique voice.
"By leading Paul back to Bernard Greenhouse and János Starker, two of his own great teachers, the viewer learns that this one-on-one, master-to-student teaching style is a legacy that's been handed down, and it’s how, at some point in every great cellist's student years, he or she has had that kind of dedicated guidance.”