German helmer joins forces with Russia's Guskov

BERLIN — World War II continues to provide rich cinematic material in Germany, where writer-director Achim von Borries has teamed up with Russian actor-producer Alexey Guskov on “Vier Tage im Mai” (Four Days in May), a true story about a group of Russian soldiers sent over enemy lines in the final days of the war.

Guskov, who currently appears in Radu Mihaileanu’s critically acclaimed “The Concert,” stars in the film and is co-producing through Moscow-based ZAO Studia F.A.F., along with Stefan Arndt of Berlin-based X Filme.

Set in Northern Germany four days before the end of the war, the story follows a small Soviet reconnaissance patrol that occupies a children’s home on the Baltic Sea coast — in close proximity to an exhausted and war-weary yet much larger Wehrmacht unit stationed nearby. The drama centers on the burgeoning relationship between a fatherless German boy and a childless Soviet captain.

Von Borries, whose 2004 “Love in Thoughts” with Daniel Bruehl became an international festival favorite, said he was immediately taken by the story, described as “a tale of forgiveness and respect, of overcoming prejudices and of the victory of humanity.” The writer-director added that since his last film, “no material, no offers from producers and not even my own ideas have captured my imagination in such a way.”

Guskov, who also stars in the film, came across the story in a military archive in Moscow and presented it to von Borries at the Berlin Film Festival two years ago.

Grigoriy Dobrygin, who won a Silver Bear at this year’s Berlinale for “How I Ended this Summer,” co-stars along with young thesp Pavel Wenzel.

Budgeted at E4.5 million ($5.85 million), “Four Days in May” is co-produced with LLC Aurora Production in Kiev and backed by German pubcaster NDR and German-French broadcaster ARTE.

The production has secured funding from the German Federal Film Fund (DFFF), the German Federal Film Board (FFA) and regional orgs Filmfoerderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein, Medienboard Berlin- Brandenburg and the Landesfoerderinstitut Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

Pic is shooting in Northern Germany this summer.

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