With Paul Schrader reaching and exceeding his 150K Kickstarter goal as part of funding for the upcoming film “The Canyons,” the writer/director has wasted no time at all prepping his next project, one which could prove a harder sell to audiences – the life story of 19th century ballerina Matilda Kshesinskaya.
The untitled biopic will follow Kshesinkaya from her poverty-stricken Polish childhood to eventually earning the highest ballet honors there are, while also focusing on her affair with the future Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, who described her as “the ultimate femme fatale.” This was not the last moniker the charismatic Kshesinkaya attained, as three other aristocratic trysts garnered her many harsher names, but while Schrader obviously has a file of pulpy material to deal in, he claims a more resonant and sprawling intention is at work. “Kshesinskaya’s life is a great metaphor of Russian culture,” he remarked, “It reminds of the best revelations of the Russian art. She was not just a witness of a critical period in Russian history, but also played her part in it.”
The untitled film will have a mixed English and Russian cast, with a director yet to be announced. At first glance, the material unfortunately conjures up Madonna’s directorial whiff “W.E.” but here’s hoping Schrader rented a copy and parsed out how not to portray a historical scandal, even if he’s tackling one that has remained under the radar. [THR]