Included within the special event.

Best of the Fest Awards Program

Sun. May 28, 2017 – 8:00 pm | US Navy Memorial Theater

The Rifleman’s Violin

Directed by Sam Ball

Short Documentary
United States | 13 min | 2015

“The Rifleman’s Violin” is a 12-minute documentary that revisits an extraordinary intersection of history and music that took place in July 1945 as Harry Truman, Winston Churchill and Josef Stalin prepared to negotiate the post-WWII fate of the world.

With wit and verve, 90-year-old virtuoso violinist Stuart Canin recounts how, as a 19-year-old GI, he deployed to the German front with his rifle and violin on his back, “because you never know.”

After Germany capitulated, Canin was once again pressed into service, this time as a musician in the Army’s 6718th Soldiers Show Company. In a secret garden on the outskirts of Berlin in ruins, he performed privately for the Big Three–at President Truman’s request—to break the ice of tense negotiations over the division of Europe and the prosecution of the war against Japan.

“The Rifleman’s Violin” is the centerpiece of a larger multimedia collaboration between Citizen Film and the Hoover Institution Archives at Stanford University. This to create a physical and online multimedia archive entitled “Potsdam Revisited: Overture to the Cold War”.

The Rifleman’s Violin leads audiences from exploration of Canin’s extraordinary story to an engagement with WWII and Cold War history that echoes into our world today.

The Rifleman's Violin - Poster

The Rifleman's Violin - Sam BallSam Ball

Documentary film and multimedia director Sam Ball is cofounder of Citizen Film, which has produced more than 150 documentary films and multimedia projects for museums, cultural and educational institutions, and television. Ball’s works have been exhibited at many of America’s most prestigious venues, from the Sundance Film Festival to the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Film Information

Director: Sam Ball
Country: United States
Year: 2015
Language: English
Runtime: 13 min


Producers: Eric Wakin
Executive Producer: Abraham D. Sofaer
Cinematographer/DP: Sophia E. Constantinou
Editor: Mike Shen|
Advisers: Dr. Norman Naimark, Hon. George P. Shultz, Dr. Scott D. Sagan

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Principal Cast

The Rifleman's Violin - Stuart Canin

Stuart Canin

Stuart Canin has held the title of concertmaster at the San Francisco Symphony, the New Japan Philharmonic (conducted by Seiji Ozawa), the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra (conducted by Kent Nagano), San Francisco Opera, the Los Angeles Opera, and numerous major Hollywood studios on such films as Schindler’s ListTitanic and Forrest Gump. He was a founding member of the New Century Chamber Orchestra and served for seven years as New Century’s first music director.

A young student of Hans Letz and Ivan Galamian and a graduate of Juilliard, Canin became the first American to win the Paganini International Violin Competition in 1959. In 1937, as a ten-year-old violinist, Canin garnered nationwide attention when he performed Schubert’s “The Bee” on The Fred Allen show and was instrumental in starting a feud between Allen and Jack Benny.