Michka Saäl

The Violin on the Canvas

1995, documentary, 75 minutes, French with English subtitles

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A portrait of Eleonora Turovsky, first violin, professor of violin and music, and visual artist. The tireless work and shared knowledge that she offers with Yuli, cellist, conductor of I Musici de Montréal, the chamber orchestra they created together. Painting, music, Russian history and memory. As Yuli says, “I am Russian, I am Jewish, I am Québécois, I am Canadian… and I still have room for more!”


Full-length version with English subtitles, courtesy of National Film Board of Canada


Written and directed by Michka Saäl


Image: Nathalie Moliavko-Visotsky

Sound recording: Catherine Van Der Donckt

Sound design: Francine Poirier

Editor: Louise Côté


Production: National Film Board of Canada


With Eleonora, Yuli and Natasha Turovsky

michka and eleonara.jpg



“At the end of the film, you will want to thank the Quebec filmmaker, Michka Saäl. She herself comes from elsewhere (from Tunisia via France) and since her arrival in Quebec in 1979, has continually documented, in words and images, the immense cultural richness that many immigrants bring to us.”

Huguette Roberge, La Presse, March 31, 1995

elenoar solo.jpg

“The portrait of the artist Eleonora Turovsky is an inspiring story of courage and passion.”

Paul Villeneuve, Journal de Montréal, March 31, 1995

“After watching Michka Saäl’s film (about the Turovsky family), we can better appreciate how for Eleonora, her husband Yuli and their daughter Natalya art is not only the most important element of their lives, but also an essential nourishment they need to share with others at all cost.”

Dominique Olivier, Voir, April 6-12, 1995


In The Sleeping Tree Dreams of its Roots, Michka Saäl describes the encounter of two young women in Quebec, one an Arab from Lebanon, the other a Jewish Tunisian. The latter was the director who engages in a personal reflection on immigration, both the struggles and the discoveries that come with culture shock. Less personal in tone, The Violin on the Canvas picks up on the same idea of the potential fruits of exile, but with a more classical approach.

Francine Laurendeau, Le Devoir April 2, 1995




Télé Québec

Canal D




The question of exile

 “(I don’t agree this film is not as personal as my others). Of course, I am less visible than my subject, but Eleonora Turovsky’s path has similarities to mine. The question of exile and origins is stamped all over my film.”

Interview with Denis Désjardins in 1995, published in Séquences 310, September-October 2017.

The most beautiful moment

“Throughout the months of preparation, and even during the longest part of the shoot, Eleonora refused to paint in front of the camera. It went against my heart, but I crossed out the idea. I understood her reasons though because I would never want a camera over my shoulder when I’m writing! Finally, she accepted… I had the impression of inventing a kind of choreography of her paintings as we filmed around Eleonora. For me, it was the most beautiful moment of the shoot.”

Interview with Denis Désjardins in 1995, published in Séquences 310, September-October 2017.