Director to tackle Russia-Georgia conflict

Renny Harlin has been set to direct an untitled drama based on actual events that took place during the five-day Russia-Georgia conflict.

The short war began Aug. 8, 2008, when Georgian forces attacked the border territory in South Ossetia. Russia recognized the territory’s independence and subsequently routed Georgian forces; tensions have remained high ever since.

Harlin will shoot the film in areas near the conflict. Pre-production is already under way, as is casting, for a mid-September shoot. The film will be made on a budget far less than Harlin is accustomed to, with financing put together by Rex Films’ George Lascu and Michael P. Flannigan, who will produce with Harlin and David Imedashvili.

Harlin said the plot specifics are being kept under wraps for security reasons, but the drama involves an American journalist and his cameraman who get caught in the crossfire in Georgia and then have to deal with their obligation to be impartial journalists.

The subject matter is a decided departure for the Finnish-born director, who is best known for helming popcorn thrillers like “Die Hard 2,” “Cliffhanger” and “Deep Blue Sea.” Turns out Harlin’s a closet aficionado of arthouse films, and he said he has waited his whole career to sink his teeth into a serious film.”I’ve waited a long time to find something with substance and reality,” Harlin said. “I thought I had that in ‘Mannerheim,’ this historical epic on the Finnish war general who led Finland against Russia in 1939, but the financing fell apart. When I got this script two weeks ago, it was exactly what I 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.”

When he began his Hollywood career producing the critical favorite “Rambling Rose” in 1991, he planned to direct films with similar sensibilities.

Commercial success took him in a different path.

“I want to make a film that says something about the human condition, and even if only a few people see this and feel its impact and its antiwar message, then I will have done something that’s important and I will be proud of it,” he said.

Mirza Davitaia and Dyndy Kuipers are executive producers.

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