Australian helmer to write, direct fact-based film

Peter Weir is set to direct “The Way Back,” the fact-based story of the escape of soldiers from a Siberian gulag in 1940.

Production begins in March in Bulgaria.

The highly selective Australian helmer last directed the 2003 film “Master and Commander” for Fox, and developed but dropped out of “Shantaram,” the Warner Bros. project which was to star Johnny Depp.

He wrote the script for “The Way Back” and based it on several sources, most notably the Slavomir Rawicz book “The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom.” Book is Rawicz’s account of being captured by the Red Army in 1939 and his journey to freedom with other inmates. The group crossed the Siberian arctic, the Gobi desert and the Himalayas, finally settling in Tibet and India.

Financing for the pic comes via Spitfire Pictures through its Cyrte Investments-backed holding company, HS Media.

HS Media, which encompasses both Spitfire and Hammer Films, has just formed the sales and distribution company Exclusive Film Distribution, which will sell offshore territories on the Weir film at AFM. Exclusive is headed by Guy East, the Majestic Films founder who was co-chairman of Intermedia with current Spitfire head Nigel Sinclair.

Weir will produce with Joni Levin, Duncan Henderson and Sinclair. Keith Clarke, John Ptak and East will be executive producers with Simon Oakes and Jonathan Schwartz.

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