VIVRE LE PIANO - ADILIA ALIEVA, documentary film

General technical and formal information on the film

Title:      Vivre le piano                 

Genre:   Documentary              

Director: Joël Louis Jent        

Production: Joël Louis Jent / Sewa Kessler                                  

Camera: Jann Anderegg, Patric Menzi

Editing:  Jann Anderegg               

Sound:   Roman Bergamin              

Length:  62 minutes (cinema/festivals) /52 minutes (TV)                         

Quantity of raw material:  about 56 hours                                             

Format:  shot  in MiniDV (Standard Definition), colour, stereo                   

Duration of shooting: 25 days   

Language versions: Russian/ English/ French, subtiteled in German, French and English


Director’s statement

VIVRE LE PIANO is neither a film about a popular subject nor is it a film with reference to actualities nor is it of historical matter. Simplifying somewhat, one could say it is a quiet film about a loud pianist, and this is where I see the strength of the film.

To make a documentary about a famous pianist is a privilege; due to great mastery and skill and backed by a personality which is not only expressive in music. This combined with a moving life story, which is characterized by countless journeys and experiences, all of which would be worth telling.

Filmically especially interesting is the ambiguity of such a personality.  A fascinating phenomenon: On one side this person is present and aware as an artist. On the other side, behind or besides this
façade, there is a differently composed character that develops and dwells in private life, which seeks its place alongside the professional life.

This ambiguity I wanted to portrait as a filmmaker. Adilia Alieva is particularly interesting because she has kept a certain Russian simplicity and often gave surprising answers to questions in her childishly canny way, which unveils in her piano playing as well, accompanied by her obvious honesty.

Aesthetically, especially the artist’s face is interesting. While she’s playing, it turns into a reflection of her inner world. It possesses a strong empathic expression, which is cinematographically focused through different zoom levels and, accompanied by the particular musical piece, can be led to a

The ability to evoke empathy is a special feature of the media film as an art form, because it is able to achieve something that other arts only achieve partially: to absorb its audience completely in its story / world and to affect the emotional and sensual world of the audience. Music takes on a supporting role therein.

That’s what I wanted to realize with VIVRE LE PIANO; in which sequences of depicting the artist’s ability are contrasted by sequences that show and portrait the person that stands behind it.

Alieva’s artistic ability is emphasized by the staging of her piano playing on one side and by the selection of the performed musical pieces on the other side, which contains the technically most challenging composition for piano (Prokofiev, Concerto Nr. 2). During the piano playing sequences this is expressed in the cut frequency, which follows the intensity of the musical piece and which is used intentionally as a varying stylistic device, as well as the choice of the different zoom levels.

Three strongly connected plot lines lead through the film and leave the film to get by without off-commentaries, which creates an atmosphere of intimacy.

The journey back to Russia after seventeen years of absence is linked to the journey back into childhood memories and the memoirs of the artist’s career. The artist’s piano playing constitutes the framework plot of the film as it does constitute a certain framework in the artist’s life - which is only one of many formal analogies.

 Joël Jent

 August 2008



Adilia Alieva, is an extraordinary pianist. At the age of six she recorded her first radio performances and at the age of seven she performed Beethoven’s Piano Concerto     No. 1 on stage, conducted by Leo Ginzburg. As a fifteen-year-old she was picked as one of the Soviet Union’s child prodigies and was taught by the pianist Henry Neuhaus in Moscow. She led the life of a classical artist in the crisis-ridden Soviet Union until she didn’t return from touring Switzerland. She left her home and family behind to build a
new life in the West.

 VIVRE LE PIANO tells stories from this playful person’s life, depicts her longings, dreams and experiences and accompanies her on her journey back to Russia after seventeen years, where she reunites with her sister and is faced with a new Moscow, which seems to have changed drastically.  Adilia provides a deep insight into her world behind her piano playing and narrates with a Russian simplicity which she hasn’t lost over the years. Her memories are accentuated by archive images from the television archive of the former Soviet Union, which are hardly accessible otherwise.

 The framework plot consists of stunning performance sequences which focus on the artist herself. They are put together in an intimate way and renounce orchestral grandeur and therefore give opportunity to the sometimes shy and yet playful pianist to display her full musicianship.

VIVRE LE PIANO gets by without off-commentaries completely and lets the pianist take over the lead through her world. This makes up a film that tells its story in a subtle and quiet way and invites the viewers to engage with its journey and the beat of the artist which she
determines herself.

On You Tube there is only 2'59 min extrait form this film. 

With NIAZI, legendary conductor, from film " Melody of friendship", when she was 10 years old.

When she was  6 years old.

With Alexandr FLIARKOVSKY, composer, ex-ministre of culture URSS

With Irina BOCHKOVA, international concert violinist, professor of Tchaikowsky Concervatoire of Moskow

With Maia PLISETSKAIA, legendary star ballet dancer, and Rodion SCHEDRIN, composer and pinaist.

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