THE WHITE CROW
After focusing on the life and times of a Roman general in CORIOLANUS (2011), loosely adapted from Shakespeare, and on Charles Dickens's affair with an 18-year-old actress in THE INVISIBLE WOMAN (2013), Ralph Fiennes turns to the story of Soviet ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev in his third film as director. Basing his work on a screenplay by David Hare, Fiennes casts light on a pivotal moment in Nureyev's career, when Leningrad's Kirov Ballet performed in Paris during the Cold War. As a member of the ensemble, Nureyev eagerly attends rehearsals, but he also uses the breaks between them to explore the city and find inspiration in the art exhibited in its museums. In the company of a Chilean acquaintance, Clara Saint, he enjoys the permissive night life of the city's jazz clubs. Occasional black-and-white flashbacks give an impression of Nureyev's childhood and his eventual interest in dance.
A complex portrait of an artist emerges in which Fiennes himself plays the part of renowned ballet master Alexander Ivanovich Pushkin. As his instructor, he not only takes Nureyev under his wing, but also invites him into his home, derailing the Pushkins' marriage. In this character, who corrects his pupils' posture with measured calmness, one recognizes the director, who guides his leading actor, Ukrainian ballet dancer and cinematic newcomer Oleg Ivenko, to an authentic performance. At the same time, a compact impression of the Cold War era emerges: when Nureyev, under constant surveillance by Soviet agents, decides he doesn't want to turn his back on a life in Paris, the film turns into an exciting political thriller. Outsiders, we're told at the beginning, are known as "white crows". Nureyev no longer wants to go back into the cage of his communist home country. He wants to be free, to fly.
The screening on July 1st is part of the CineMerit Award Ceremony.
CINEMERIT GALA: RALPH FIENNES
Cast: Oleg Ivenko, Ralph Fiennes, Louis Hofmann, Adèle Exarchopoulos, Sergei Polunin
Screenplay: David Hare
Director of Photography: Mike Eley
Film Editor: Barney Pilling
Composer: Ilan Eshkeri
Production Designer: Anne Seibel
Costume Design: Madeline Fontaine
Producer: Gabrielle Tana, Ralph Fiennes, Carolyn Marks Blackwood, Andrew Levitas, François Ivernel
Co-Producer: Meg Clark, Mark Cooper
Production Company: Magnolia Mae Films Limited
Co-Production Company: Lonely Dragon Productions, Montebello Productions, Metalwork Pictures
World Sales: Hanway Films Limited
Distributor: Alamode Filmdistribution oHG
Director: Ralph Fiennes
Ralph Fiennes was born in Ipswich, England, in 1962. He learned to act at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. In 1987, he became a member of the Royal National Theatre, and a short time later, a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company. His cinema debut came in WUTHERING HEIGHTS (1992). A year later, his portrayal of a Nazi officer in Steven Spielberg's SCHINDLER'S LIST (1993) earned him an Oscar nomination and numerous offers of roles. Fiennes played the leading role in Robert Redford's QUIZ SHOW (1994) and was again nominated for an Oscar for his performance in THE ENGLISH PATIENT (1996). His career on the stage continued all the while; his performance as Hamlet in a Broadway production in 1995 resulted in a nomination for a Tony Award. In motion pictures, he portrayed a writer in Neil Jordan's THE END OF THE AFFAIR (1999), a serial killer in RED DRAGON (2002), and a widower who seeks revenge for the death of his wife in THE CONSTANT GARDENER (2005). In 2008 he had distinctive roles in IN BRUGES, THE READER, THE DUCHESS, and THE HURT LOCKER. In the Harry Potter films, he played Lord Voldemort, and in SKYFALL (2012) and SPECTRE (2015) James Bond's boss, M. He demonstrated his comedic talent in such films as Wes Anderson's THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL (2014) and the Coen Brothers' HAIL, CAESAR! (2016). Fiennes has also lent his voice to various animated films, such as THE PRINCE OF EGYPT (1998) and THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE (2017). In CORIOLANUS, his first film as director, he took on the title role, which he had performed on stage in 2000. In 2013, he made his second full-length feature film, THE INVISIBLE WOMAN, in which he played author Charles Dickens, who had an (historically authenticated) affair with a young actress. The biopic THE WHITE CROW (2018) is Fiennes's third feature film.