Yesterday, producer Carolyn Marks Blackwood had a screening in her hometown of Rhinebeck, NY at Upstate Films of the new movie The White Crow and I was lucky enough to be invited.
I would say Carolyn’s my friend, but we had never met in person until yesterday. Blackwood is also a photographer of some note that I’ve written about here and we’ve become friendly on Facebook and have scores of friends in common. She has produced other films you may have seen like The Duchess and Philomena.
This new film tells the story of Rudolph Nureyev‘s early life and climaxes with his defection to the west, which has all the drama of Bourne thriller. Myself, as well as a Sunday afternoon crowd, of about 125 of Blackwood’s friends enjoyed it immensely.
It’s directed by Ralph Fiennes, who also stars as Nureyev’s teacher and mentor. It’s beautifully shot and the dance feels real (Blackwood confirmed at the screening that the dances were heavily researched and authentic.)
In a Q & A after the screening, Blackwood said that they had found newcomer Oleg Ivenko in a wide casting and that Fiennes wanted a great dancer, rather than an actor with a dance double, and it pays off onscreen. The camera is in love with Ivenko and gives us loving close-ups of his beauty and intensity. Ivenko had never acted before but you can’t have a better teacher, in acting (or in dance, onscreen) than Fiennes. His Russian is perfect, btw.
The story is excitingly told in a non-linear fashion, jumping from Nureyev being schooled by Fiennes, to his early life and to his first trip to Paris where he discovers the beauty and allure of freedom with new Western friends.
Nureyev’s sexuality is dealt with as part of the story, rather matter -of-factly, and not sensationalized but you see some sexy full-frontal of a same-sex partner (not of Ivenko, unfortunately) but Nureyev also carries on with two women, one intellectually, one sexually, but I won’t spoil it.
Seeing Paris in the 60s is another visual treat, but it’s the dance that is SO spectacular. The shots of Ivenko dancing in rehearsal and onstage are wide and long and it’s all him doing the work and it WOWs.
At a small gathering at Blackwood’s home after, she sung Ivenko’s praises even more and said what a delight he is as a person and that they’ve keep in touch through Instagram. He lives in Russia, where the film was just screened, and now has the acting bug. I hope Hollywood takes note and comes calling again. If they need a sexy Russian spy, he’s the guy.
See it in the theater for the full glory of the amazing story and the beauty of Fiennes direction, and especially Ivenko. He’s thrilling to watch, still and in motion.
You can see the release schedule when the film is near you here.
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@fguidicini 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 Просто улыбаемся , проводим хороший вечер и Улыбаемся . Just smile , have a wonderful evening, and smile 😊 #olegivenko #life #whitecrow #thewhitecrow #balletworld #balletboy #actor #star #followme #blackteam #stageplatforma #stageplatforma2 #rudolfnureev #cinema #filmfestival #newyork #star #charliegray #london
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Мой Учитель , с Днём Рождения 🥳 все самое важное сказал уже лично по телефону ! Рад что такой человек рядом со мной. Он меня многому уже научил , и учит по сей день . Удивляет постоянно и вдохновляет . Откуда энергия даже не представляю , но он успевает все . Человек с Большой Буквы ! Я ему очень благодарен за всё…