top of page

Downtown Express

90 Minutes


Downtown Express tells a classic story of youthful rebellion, but tells it with a unique voice: through music. Set in the world of Russian immigrants living in New York City, Downtown Express explores the ways that old world values inevitably clash with the lure and excitement of a new country. The film stars two acclaimed musicians: Philippe Quint, a Grammy-award nominated virtuoso classical violinist, and Nellie McKay, a singer-songwriter whose songs, part jazz, part sparkly pop, are noted for their wit and quirky humor. 

Quint’s role in Downtown Express marks the first time that a classical musician has been featured as the lead in an American film. The story turns on the conflict between Sasha (Quint), a young Russian violinist on a scholarship to Juilliard, and Vadim, his loving but overbearing father, a cellist determined to foster his son's career as a classical musician. They live with Sasha's cousin Arkady, crammed into a small apartment in a Russian immigrant enclave in Brooklyn. Sasha has a temporary student visa, but Vadim and Arkady’s visas have lapsed, and the threat of arrest hangs over them. While Sasha and Marie, his pianist-teacher, prepare for a critical recital to launch Sasha’s career, Sasha is increasingly drawn to the rhythms of the streets of New York. When he meets Ramona (McKay), a singer-songwriter, he joins her band, falls in love, and begins to lead a double life, careening frantically between two worlds. As his classical debut nears, Sasha must decide whether to break with his father - as the children of immigrants must often do - and forge his own destiny. 


Grand Jury Prize, Gasparilla International Film Festival

“Downtown Express may be the most musical movie ever made.” 

– Ground Report 

“More New York City than Woody Allen.” 

– Richard Lanoie, The Reviews Page 

“The music is sublime.” 

– New York Magazine 

“A joyful alliance between audience and actor... spirited. High energy.” 

– Elizabeth Weitzman, NY Daily News 

“Radiates with love.” 

– Jeannette Catsoolis, New York Times

bottom of page