‘Oleg and a Rare Arts’ (‘Oleg y las raras artes’): Rotterdam Review

Andres Duque’s mural of an unusual St. Petersburg musician bent during a Dutch festival before holding tip honors during Pamplona.

A puzzling conductor belatedly re-enters a spotlight in Oleg and a Rare Arts (Oleg y las raras artas), Andres Duque’s adoring loyalty to oddity octogenarian Oleg Karavaychuk. A Faberge tiny of a design during usually 66 minutes, this look into a fragile area of a facilely enchanting pianist/composer took tip honors during Pamplona’s prestigious Punto de Vista documentary showcase days after premiering to comfortable reactions during Rotterdam. An exotically high-toned arrange of crowd-pleaser from a writer-director formerly best famous for some-more challengingly initial fare, it should find no necessity of serve festival bearing and a scherzo running-time is ideal for small-screen play.

Oleg and a Rare Arts fast emerged from left-field as a genuine “buzz” pretension during Rotterdam, generating substantial seductiveness among programmers, reporters and critics in attendance. But it also scored rarely among a pubic in a Audience Award voting, alighting a really important 26th place in a 178-strong margin — narrowly forward of Laurie Anderson’s likewise quirky non-fictioner Heart of a Dog. It looks certain to extend a reputation of Venezuela-born, Barcelona-educated Duque, formerly of especially sect seductiveness among cinephiles who lapped adult his diaristic musings in Color Runaway Dog (2011) and Dress Rehearsals For Utopia (2012).

Duque — who profiled nonconformist Basque executive Ivan Zulueta in 2004’s 52-minute Ivan Z — adopt comparatively required mode. In a prolific mangle from his common m.o., he’s handed pivotal artistic duties to others this time around, with Carmen Torres doing cinematography and Felix Duque a editing. Torres’ lushly high-contrast images, full of colourful tone and low shadow, yield a formally heightened if unfussy portal into Oleg’s universe — a section of what is clearly one astronomically polished sensibility.

The 88-year-old is initial seen in an prosperous mezzanine of a Hermitage museum in St Petersburg, embellished out in his heading maroon beret — out from underneath that a succulent fur of prolonged brownish-red hair (real?) cascades. A small, stick-thin, sharp-featured, baggy-jumpered figure of indistinct gender — his quiveringly high-pitched voice provides tiny idea — Oleg advances towards a tripod-fixed camera delivering a trilling musing in Russian on a state of things (“people have mislaid their soul”). Tiresias-like, he urges us to “contemplate a setting of history,” entrance opposite in a demeanour of an intermediary from a Samuel Beckett play, an impossibly apart date — or even, perhaps, another planet.

Many would be utterly happy to listen to Karavaychuk’s erudite, ended idiosyncrasies for hours. But in serve episodes he gets to uncover off his specialist and disconcertingly initial piano skills — including a army on Czar Nicholas’s elaborately gilded instrument, no less. Famous for behaving with a pillow-case on his head, and/or in a near-horizontal recumbent position, Karavaychuk has always been as many idealist and dignitary as composer/interpreter/performer.

And Duque — who’s seemingly besotted with his bizarrely charismatic protagonist — allows him abundant time to teach his philosophies of accord and dissonance, among other some-more enigmatic topics. Natural fibers are a pivotal to a prolonged life, confides this beguilingly peaceful guy who’s endearingly happy to anticipate his possess talent — “my melodies are worried yet they’re brilliant” — and who is invariable in his cultivation of of “my boundless style, my boundless rhythm.”

A acquire alfresco tarry is supposing during a mid-section that takes us to a atmospherically woodsy allotment of Komarovo, where Stalin supposing giveaway dachas to state-approved artists — Karavaychuk, a distinctively shameless name-dropper, used to have a shining likes of Tarkovsky, Akhmatova and Shostakovich as neighbors. Karavaychuk’s thankfulness to a ruthless dictator, for whom he achieved when usually a tiny child, is undimmed by a flitting of time. He refers wistfully to “the knowledge of a Great Leader” and evidently has no problem in being concurrently Stalinist and snobbishly imperialist/royalist — yet he’s scornfully dismissive of Vladimir Putin and his conformist circle.

Such intriguing avenues of suspicion are are left unexplored by director/acolyte Duque, who adopts a really low-key proceed here — yet by no means a fly-on-the-wall one, as a practicalities of a filming routine are blithely and amusingly addressed by Karavaychuk on countless occasions. He’s no foreigner to such practices, of course, carrying formerly seemed in a handful of facilities between 1961 and 1970, and braggadocio some-more than sixty component screen-credits to his name — many particularly collaborations with his associate Ukrainian, a worshiped executive Kira Muratova.

The IMDb indeed lists him as composer on Kote Mikaberidze’s My Grandmother from 1929, when he was hardly dual years aged — presumably a cataloguing gaffe of some kind. Then again, given Karavaychuk’s impassioned precocity and prodigiousness, choice explanations can’t be wholly ruled out.

Production company: Estudi Playtime
Director / Screenwriter: Andres Duque
Producers: Marta Andreu, Tania Ballo
Executive producers: Lluis Minarro, Serrana Torres
Cinematographer: Carmen Torres
Editor: Felix Duque
Composer: Oleg Karavaychuk
Sound: Boris Alexeev
Sales: Estudi Playtime, Barcelona
No Rating, 66 minutes