Director brings promo reel to Euro bazaar

Director Renny Harlin has seen a lot — and shot almost as much — since breaking out of his native Finland with the action film “Born American” in 1986. He’s seen his name spelled out in fireworks over the skies of Cannes for the release of the Sylvester Stallone blockbuster “Cliffhanger,” seen his films like “Die Hard 2″ top the box office charts around the world and he’s seen the other end of the charts with large-scale misfires like “Cutthroat Island.”

Now he’s made a torn-from-headlines thriller called “Georgia” that Harlin calls “the fulfillment of a dream I had.”

Set in Georgia during the brief but horrifically violent conflict with Russia less than two years ago, Harlin likens the project to his experience making “Ramblin’ Rose,” in that it is “one of those projects that are smaller and very interesting but very hard to put together in Hollywood.” Thanks to producers George Lascu of Rexmedia and Mirza Davitaia, Harlin got his dream project together and was bringing the result to the current European Film Market in Berlin last week in the form of a 15-minute promo reel.

And thanks to the assistance of the Georgian authorities, Harlin can boast that in this big-scale actioner “there is no CGI” and that what’s on the screen — a sky filled with real jets and helicopters, dozens of battle tanks and thousands of extras — is real.

It has the breathtaking beauty of the country as well as re-creations of the devastation that look remarkably like a country being torn apart by war.

Harlin’s budget on “Georgia” was a little over $12 million; cast includes Val Kilmer, Andy Garcia and newer names like Rupert Friend and Emmanuelle Chriqui.

“There are so many problems in the world today that I think an adventure film on the subject is perhaps better than a documentary, because it means that viewers can get drawn into the human story but come away learning something that isn’t on page one of the newspapers this week.”

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