Hollywood meets Kazakhstan

Bekmambetov launches Astana festival

SOCHI, RUSSIA – Top Hollywood players are on the guest list for the first ever international action film festival to be held in Kazakhstan.

Organized by Timur Bekmambetov, the Kazakh-born director of Warner Bros. action movie “Wanted” — as well as a string of Russian-made hit films that include “Night Watch” and “Day Watch” — the Astana Intl. Action Film Festival is due to open June 27.

With films that include Sylvester Stallone’s “The Expendables,” about a team of mercenaries on a mission to overthrow a South American dictatorship, and Harald Zwart’s “The Karate Kid,” and a draft guest list that includes Harvey Weinstein, Lawrence Bender and Milla Jovovich, Bekmambetov’s festival looks set to bring Hollywood to the Central Asian steppes.

The festival’s credo is “to provide access to popular foreign films for a wide audience” and “to the development and strengthening of cultural and professional cooperation” between Eurasia, Russia and the West.

The festival comes just four years after there was national outrage in Kazakhstan after Sacha Baron Cohen’s “Borat” poked fun at the country. Although Kazakh officials banned “Borat,” they later toned down their criticism in tacit recognition of the worldwide publicity it had afforded the oil rich former Soviet state.

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