Ralph Fiennes is to direct “The White Crow,” written by David Hare, which centers on the life of Russian ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev. HanWay Films is handling world sales and will introduce the project to buyers in Berlin.
The film is based on Julie Kavanagh’s book “Rudolf Nureyev: The Life,” which “delves into the most cinematic, cultural and politically charged chapter of [the life of Nureyev], a fearless, explosive personality both on and off the stage,” according to a statement.
Fiennes said: “This is a story of an uncompromising spirit, of homeland and ideologies that restrict, and of friendship. It is, equally, a tale about the life and ballet culture he left behind in Russia.”
The film is being produced by Gabrielle Tana, who was nominated for an Academy Award for “Philomena,” through Magnolia Mae Productions, and Francois Ivernel through Montebello Productions.
Russian dancer Oleg Ivenko will play Nureyev and Adele Exarchopoulos (“Blue is the Warmest Color”) plays Clara Saint, who opened Nureyev’s eyes to the Nouvelle Vague in Paris and helped choreograph his defection. The cast also includes Ukrainian dancer Sergei Polunin and Russian actress Chulpan Khamatova.
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“Ralph Fiennes will intimately capture the raw physicality and brilliance of Nureyev, while David Hare’s script delivers a tight and thrilling insight into his dangerous defection to the West in 1961 Paris, choreographed by the dancer’s great friend, 21-year-old Parisian Clara Saint,” according to the statement. “In a finale at Le Bourget airport in Paris, ‘The White Crow’ climaxes with that global event, reenacting a day that captivated and stunned the world over and proved to be one of the West’s greatest propaganda coups during the Cold War.”
The film will shoot on location in St. Petersburg and Paris, including the Mariinsky Theater and the Palais Garnier. Production is set to begin this summer.