Fleisher and Baltimore in the Oscar race

January 26, 2007|By Michael Sragow | Michael Sragow,Sun Movie Critic

Baltimore entered the Oscar lists on Tuesday in a big way in a brief film.

Two Hands, nominated for best short documentary, tells the story of revered classical pianist and Baltimorean Leon Fleisher, who since 1964 has waged a fight against the neurological disorder dystonia, which for decades deprived him the use of his right hand.

"It's totally a Baltimore story," says producer Susan Rose Behr, noting that the action includes stops at the Peabody Conservatory and the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, and the cast includes Fleisher's Johns Hopkins Hospital neurologist Dr. Daniel Drachman (the son-in-law of the great cellist Gregor Piatigorsky).

The line producer is Dasha Snyder, daughter of Dr. Solomon H. Snyder, former chairman of Hopkins' neuroscience department. Dasha Snyder, a graduate of Friends School who is now based in Los Angeles, previously wrote and produced The D Word, an acclaimed New York-based parody of the Showtime series The L Word.

The director is Philadelphia-based filmmaker Nathaniel Kahn, previously nominated for an Oscar for his feature-length documentary portrait of his father, Louis Kahn, My Architect (2003).

And the movie promises to be that rarity: a genuinely inspirational film. Fleisher recorded two comeback CDs recently, Leon Fleisher: Two Hands in 2004, and, last September, Leon Fleisher: The Journey. Sun music critic Tim Smith said these productions found the artist "not just in impressive technical control but in a mood that can only be called musically loving."


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