Anne Frank P.S. Hosts Screening of Award-Winning Documentary About Holocaust Survivor

Vaughan, ON - In honour of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Anne Frank P.S. welcomed students, staff and family members to a screening of The Rhapsody.   

The Rhapsody is an award-winning documentary about Leo Spellman, a Polish Canadian composer and Holocaust survivor. Documentary producers Paul Hoffert and Brenda Hoffert attended the event, and participated in a Q&A panel with audience members.

“The Rhapsody has been a labour of love and I am very pleased to see the passionate responses from audiences around the world. The film took more than ten years to make, starting as a simple story about a CD recording, morphing into a concert film, then taking a major leap when Leo Spellman’s wartime diaries were discovered and translated,” said David Hoffert, Director, The Rhapsody. “It is imperative that stories of inhumanity, injustice and perseverance continue to be told – the Holocaust, Canadian residential schools, Ukraine and so many more - so that we can try to learn from the indignities of the past and present in order not to repeat it.” 

In preparation for the Rhapsody screening and International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Grade 7 and 8 classes at Anne Frank P.S. explored their own family stories of arrival, resilience, resistance and reclaiming identity and culture. Students showcased their learning through the Arts, including poetry, spoken word, drama and visual Art. Students also viewed and discussed the works of Jewish artists, as well as Indigenous, Black and Asian artists, writers, musicians, and filmmakers to look at how the arts can be used to  tell stories, disrupt narratives and document experiences of colonialism, historic trauma, attempted erasure, racism and othering. As part of the project, students also compared their own family photos with archival photos of Jewish families taken prior to the Holocaust.

“It was an honour to host a screening of such a powerful documentary. Through the project and viewing this documentary, we are working to  build empathy and resist the dehumanization of the victims of the Holocaust,” said Aneta Fishman, Principal of Anne Frank P.S.  “It is important that students understand what happened during the Holocaust and recognize how the ideologies that led to the Holocaust persist in anti-Black racism, anti-Indigenous racism, anti-Asian racism, Islamophobia, and antisemitism in current contexts within Canada.”

“My father and I really liked the screening of Rhapsody 1939-1945. I found it very moving, strong, exciting, and inspirational. I really enjoyed Leo’s stories about how music carried him through the war and how the music served as a distraction that brought him into his own world, and possibly even helped save his life. I have always known how horrible the Holocaust was and that so many innocent people died and lost loved ones, and everything they had. But only to a certain extent. And to hear the story of one person's traumatizing experience in such detail, was truly amazing and inspiring,” said Kayla Schibi, Grade 8, Anne Frank Public School.

“Yesterday I was fortunate to watch the film Rhapsody 1933 - 1945. I felt many emotions such as sadness, joy and relief. I felt sad when he (Leo Spellman) was witnessing all the deaths and when he was trapped in the cupboard wall for three days. I felt joy when I heard the orchestra play. I felt relief when he was finally saved. Since my grandparents are Holocaust survivors I felt a connection when I was watching the film. I am so happy that I had a chance to watch the film and talk to the producers. I will always remember this experience,” said Ari Glinauer, Grade 8 student, Anne Frank Public School.

A second screening of the documentary will be planned later this school year in York Region District School Board.


York Region District School Board is the third largest school district in Ontario with over 126,000 students in180 elementary schools and 33 secondary schools. York Region students consistently perform above average in provincial testing and the Board is one of the top achievers in Ontario. For more information about the York Region District School Board, please visit the Board website and follow YRDSB on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn.

News Release