Hunter Film & Media Studies IMA Graduate Student Wins National Board of Review Student Grant Competition Award for Documentary about Musician Andreas Scholl

June 20, 2011 | Hunter College

Mariano Wainsztein, an IMA graduate student, has won an award from the National Board of Review for his documentary The Animal in You, which he filmed, directed and edited.

For over 101 years the National Board of Review has dedicated its efforts to the support of film, domestic and foreign, as both art and entertainment. This nonprofit organization celebrates the distinctive voice of the individual artist, honoring excellence and supporting freedom of expression in film.

Wainsztein’s documentary tells the story of Andreas Scholl and his unique relationship with his beloved teacher and vocal coach, Richard Levitt, who pursued a career as a classical singer in Europe in the early 1960s. As a child, he and his brother worked in Hollywood where they got small acting roles in films and stage productions. Levitt ended up teaching singing at the music academy in Basel, Switzerland.

The film was mostly shot in Basel, Levitt’s place of residence, and is comprised of interviews with Scholl in Germany and conversations he had with Levitt in Basel. A central scene observes both Levitt and Scholl in a shared master class at the music academy as they instruct three young singers. The film moves back and forth between these scenes, ignoring the dictates of a chronological linearity. The interviews and conversations in the film revolve around Levitt’s life and unique approach to singing, but they also return to a dream Andreas had during the shooting of the film, a dream about the recent loss of his father and of the role of father figure that Levitt has taken in his life in the past as well as in the present time.

The name of the film is borrowed from dialogue in the film. During a master class in which a student sings a technically perfect performance, Richard asks Andreas:

“What do we say about the animal in you?”

Andreas answers: “Don’t forget that animal.”

Wainsztein, an independent filmmaker since 2001, grew up both in Argentina and in Israel. He studied music in the Tel Aviv Academy of Music and in the Royal conservatory in the Hague, Holland, majoring in composition. He has written music for dance companies such as the Bat-Sheva dance company, for the choreographer Emanuel Gat, and for acclaimed video artist Guy Ben-Ner.

The Animal in You will be screened at the Hunter College Film & Media Studies documentary series REEL DIALOGUE in the fall.