Saturday, November 14, 2009

screening! and air date!

Can it possibly be more than two weeks since Nureyev had its screening at the Royal cinema on Toronto's College Street? Life is a bit crazed right now, but I finally have a few minutes to report on the day, one we've all been waiting for!

On Wednesday, October 28, the many people who contributed to the making of Nureyev, joined their families and friends to view with excitement the first public projection of the final product. I made a short introduction and then Moze and producer Peter Gentile came forward to make their thank yous and get the ball rolling. One of the most important things they told us was that the film has an air date! Nureyev will air on December 1st at 9:00 pm on Bravo!

It had been a couple of months since I had seen a first cut of the film, in the editing suite alongside Moze and Jeff Bessner and some other guests. I was deeply moved then by the film, by how powerfully the nuances of emotion were revealed through choreography and performance and the flow of the camerawork. Jeff's nimble eye for story elements and Moze's sense of the governing vision are a great match always - and it's a pleasure to watch and listen to them tug and tease a sequence into shape.

Since the screening I saw, the most noticeable shift was in the use of the music. The first cut used guide tracks - the same tracks the performers used in the actual making of the film. Since then, composers Phil Strong and Laurel MacDonald (pictured here) had reworked the themes and recomposed the music to fit the final cut of the film. This is an extraordinary task and a very hard one. Some work is still being done to fine tune the scoring before air date but the difference was notable: Nureyev now had a clean line musically. In a tale told through dance over many scenes and sequences, that clean line is essential.

After the screening, several people talked to me from a place of being deeply moved. The thematic values of the film had unquestionably pushed through: capturing the soul of an artist as it navigates the chaos of life choices, always pushing the boundary of expression and the means to achieve it. I continue to be only more deeply amazed by the work of Nico, who seems to understand and navigate this journey with just the right amount of feeling. The choreography of Matjash Mrozewski also weaves narrative and emotion seamlessly together from gesture that indicates story telling to the painful embraces of lovers who somehow know their time is limited.

My own mother and her friends gathered near Moze's mother and her friends, all bubbling with enthusiasm. It made me wonder for a moment what Nureyev's own mother might have felt all those long years of his performing in exile. It made me realize how much a project like this conjures the imagination of many other stories hidden and untold, lying in the shadows of history. When Nico's Nureyev gazes up at a picture of the actual Nureyev in the film's last shot, one artist pays homage to another, the endurance of art is invoked, and somehow the sacrifices of those other silent voices seem all worthwhile.

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