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Lenin’s ‘Blood’ runs

Brandauer cast as lead in Russian-Finnish pic

VYBORG, Russia — Leading German thesp Klaus Maria Brandauer is set to star as Vladimir I. Lenin in “Belief, Hope and Blood,” a Russian-Finnish co-production tackling the private life of the communist leader and revolutionary. Nikita Mikhalkov, Russia’s top helmer, is due to play opposite him.

Pic’s story moves between 1919, with Lenin already in power in Moscow, and 1907, when he was a revolutionary in hiding in Finland. He has a love affair with a local girl, who later gives birth to a son, whom Lenin finally refuses to recognize as his own.

Finnish connection

Flashback scenes were shot in Finland last summer, with co-production support from cult Finnish helmer Aki Kaurismaki (“Leningrad Cowboys Go America”). Russian thesp Igor Muzhzhukhin plays the young Lenin opposite Finnish actress Maria Yarvenhelmi, who portrays his lover, Marjatta.

Pic, from debut helmer Marina Dubrovina with a script by Igor Maiboroda, has landed startup funding from Russia’s Goskino, but has to finalize domestic coin to round out its projected $2 million below-the-line spend.

Though it has secured permission to shoot in Moscow’s Kremlin and other historic locations where Lenin lived, “Belief” has come up against its share of political flack at home, where its subject is far from neutral.

Russian resistance

Even its title, which plays on the popular Russian phrase “Belief, Hope and Love,” has been slammed as controversial.

“It’s probably the first time Lenin has been shown as a human being in a Russian film — not his ideological, but his emotional side,” commented scripter Maiboroda. “The left accuse us of taking a right-wing line; those on the right say we have a left-wing slant.”

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