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Law Building, Lower Level
1001 Bissonnet
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Directed by Lincoln Mayorga



93 minutes



A Suitcase Full of Chocolate

With piano performance by director Lincoln Mayorga

When Hitler invaded Austria in 1938, a prize-winning young Jewish pianist was forced to abandon her musical studies in Vienna and return to her home in Latvia. There, she was arrested and sent to a Soviet labor camp, where she endured seven years of hunger and cold.

Thirty years in the making, A Suitcase Full of Chocolate recounts the extraordinary story of Sofia Cosma, a brilliant pianist whose career was suppressed by the Nazis and later by the Soviets. Against incomprehensible odds, Cosma survived World War II and became a renowned musician and teacher, as well as a devoted mother.

Director Lincoln Mayorga began filming his documentary in 1980, at the time of Cosma’s defection from Romania to the United States. His inspiring portrait presents a lesson in freedom, artistry, and humanity. Through incredible adversity, this musician made music at the highest level, cared for her family, and kept her keen sense of humor.

Mayorga himself is a noted studio musician, classical concert pianist, and arranger and conductor for other notable musicians who have included Phil Ochs and Frank Zappa. The filmmaker introduces tonight's screening and enhances the presentation by playing several works key to Cosma’s career, including selections by Brahms, Chopin, and Rachmaninoff. Mayorga will talk about the Russian pianists and their tradition, and the genesis of the film.

Tickets available only through Houston Cinema Arts Society: online or at 713.222.5400. Any remaining tickets will be on sale at the MFAH the night of the screening.