Laurent Danielou’s Loco Films is partnering with veteran Russian filmmaker Pavel Lungin on “Leaving Afghanistan,” a film about the Soviet-Afghan war, which will mark the biggest-budgeted Russian production slated for 2018.
Budgeted at $15 million, the film wrapped shooting in October in Berlin. Due to the unstable situation in Afghanistan, the film shot mostly in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and in the territory of Dagestan. It will get a wide release in Russia on 1,000 screens in November.
Based on true events, the movie is set in 1989, when Soviet troops started to withdraw from Afghanistan. The film follows the story of a Soviet General Vasiliev’s son, a pilot named Alexander, who is kidnapped by the local mujahideen after his airplane crashes. As a result, the 108th Motor Rifle Division’s long-awaited return home is put on hold for one last mission: bring the general’s son back.
Loco Films is handling international sales. Danielou, who worked with Lungin on “Tsar” and “The Island,” said that “Berlin buyers are already on the lookout for this important film, which shows the last war waged by the Soviet empire, filmed by one of the best Russian directors out there.”
Speaking to Variety about the film, Lungin said, “The withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan marked the beginning of the collapse of the USSR, two years later. … There have been so few films about the Afghan war because up until today no one knows how to properly treat the disintegration of the Soviet Union.”
Lungin said he worked collaborated closely with historians and war veterans to portray the war and re-create it in a realistic way. The helmer also got access to military equipment (including helicopters and tanks) used during the war.
Beyond the Soviet-Afghan war, Lungin said his film “speaks of the senselessness, cruelty of war, which spares no one, regardless of social status and religious affiliation.”
Lungin has competed at Cannes with several films, including “Tsar” which played at Un Certain Regard in 2009; and “Taxi Blues,” which won best director. His 2007 film “Ostrov” played at Sundance.