Winsome Brown’s film “The Violinist” is a 16 mm black and white experimental gothic narrative shot by leading avant-garde filmmaker Jennifer Reeves with a Bolex camera. It tells the story of Russian violin virtuoso Rebecca Chernyakov (embodied by our live violinist Rebecca Cherry) who arrives in New York in 1913 and quickly falls in love with a dangerous demimondain played by Ken Roht, who introduces her to the speakeasies, opium dens, and dark places of the City.
Rebecca’s experiences with opium intertwine with her obsession for the stranger until she cannot separate one passion from the other, leading her inexorably to addiction, a terrible fall from grace, and personal and artistic cataclysm.
Apart from its themes of music and intoxication, the film explores the world of dance. Ken Roht, who was principal choreographer and a performer for experimental theatre genius Reza Abdoh, gives a stunning physical performance, writhing like smoke and springing like a panther throughout the film. In rich back room scenes, copulating bodies rise, entwine, and fall like waves. Leading New York dancer Ariane Anthony gives a jaunty old school burlesque.
Making his film debut as Rudolf Grigory, the jilted lover, is George Steel, the Artistic Director of New York City Opera. Also featured are Paula Malcomson (Trixie on HBO’s Deadwood), cult favorite O-Lan Jones, and many other luminaries from the worlds of art, music, film, and experimental theatre.
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