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20 Oct, 2009 22:53

Will Andy Garcia eat his tie? Hollywood star plays Saakashvili

A war of titans seems to be starting, but luckily not a bloody one this time. Die Hard 2 director Renny Harlin to make film about 2008 Georgian war, but another star, Emir Kusturica, seems ready to fire back with a hit.

It’s probably the first time Georgia has hosted such big Hollywood stars, and not only hosts, but enjoys taking center stage in a new movie by a renowned director. Renny Harlin, who made blockbuster Die Hard 2, has begun working on a movie about the 2008 August war between Georgia and South Ossetia. It is reported the film hasn’t got a name yet and, for the moment, is simply called “Georgia”.

And the star of “Godfather 3” and “The Untouchables”, Cuban-born Andy Garcia, will be playing Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili. He came to stay in Tbilisi for only two days. First, several of the scenes are to be shot at the president’s residence, and on the second day the film crew will move to Rustaveli Avenue, where Saakashvili was holding a military parade during the five-day war, Svobodnaya Pressa reports.

The drama focuses on an American journalist who comes under fire, with his cameraman, in Georgia. There are only two questions on the agenda for both journalists: to stay alive and be objective.

The film is to be released in English and will last about two hours. It’s planned that it will be finished by November and the premiere will take place next year in May. As the main roles will be played by Hollywood actors, their Georgian colleagues will only get supporting roles.

For or against?

The Finnish filmmaker made a name for himself as the director of such action adventures as “The Long Kiss Goodnight”, “Deep Blue Sea” as well as “A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master”.

The director insists he’s not going to take sides in the 2008 conflict. According to him, however, the movie is going to make a strong anti-war statement.

Harlin said that when he got the script he realized it was what he had been looking for:

“A great human story with tragic, serious overtones. I saw it as my opportunity to use my experience in action films to tell the story of a complex conflict that is impartial, but makes a strong antiwar statement,” he told Variety back in August of this year.

However, Georgia hasn’t acknowledged that it actually started the war and continues to blame Russia, while the international community and the world media now state this fact openly.

So, it’s not yet known whether Georgian authorities are planning to use the screenplay as yet another instrument to blacken the Russian side and again complain upon hearing a threat from Russia – not from a rostrum but from the cinema screen this time – which, obviously, seems to exist only in their imagination.

Will Kusturica strike back?

There has been speculation that the renowned Serb filmmaker Emir Kusturica is going to present his version of what happened in South Ossetia last year. Svobodnaya Pressa writes that for that, he had already visited the Republic to see the ruined Tskhinval with his own eyes and to talk to eyewitnesses.

According to the news site, the Cannes Award-winning director has called the August actions by the Georgian side “a dirty staging”, saying that the fact the aggression in South Ossetia was meant to be masked by the Olympics when all eyes were on the games is “clearly showing the world we live in” and demonstrated that Saakashvili’s actions are not as “democratic” as he claimed.

But Svobodnaya Pressa also reports that the Georgian film directors, led by Keti Dolodze, addressed their famous Serb colleague, asking him “not to go on a leash of the Kremlin propagandists and their Tskhinval marionettes”. They are said to have recommended Kusturica come to Tbilisi to get an idea of the Georgian view on the tragic events of 2008. However, there’ve been no reports whether Harlin had ever been advised to visit Tshinval for the same purpose, to get an objective picture of what had happened.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported on Monday that Kusturica will not be making the film because of his having “a binding contract for the next four years”.