BIFF YEAR ’ROUND 2020-21
Sat Feb 29, 2020 – 12:00 pm | La Casa Grande
Behind The Strings
Directed by Hal Rifken
USA | 56 min | 2020
When Mao’s Cultural Revolution ended, China’s door cracked open. Four young, classically trained musicians seized the opportunity to flee to the West. They’ve performed for 36 years in the U.S. and around the world. Behind the Strings tells how they got there, and the price they pay to stay on top. And, why China is now inviting them back to perform the music that was previously banned.
Hal Rifken has worked as a cinematographer and documentary film producer/director for over 30 years. Beginning his career as an educator, he shifted from academic studies at the University of Wisconsin to filmmaking. After apprenticing with local filmmakers in Madison, he moved to New York City and immediately began production on a series of informational videos for District 75, NYC’s special education department. Production highlights: he spent 2 years on location for the Food Network shooting Chef Martin Yan as he shared his wok with fellow food enthusiasts (Edible Roots Wit Martin Yan).
His documentary subjects include one on an Indian-American artist (Blue Like Me: The Art of Siona Benjamin); a profile of a 300 pound drag queen (Dixie Queen); and 5 years shooting producer Michael Peroff’s ambitious string quartet project (Behind The String). Currently he is producing a documentary on Guatemala’s indigenous Maya people (Guatemala: Trouble in the Highlands).