Noyce to wage Chechnya war

Zeltser inked to pen pic

Director Phillip Noyce is partnering with TF1 Intl. to develop “Bloodline,” a story set against the backdrop of the Russia-Chechnya conflict.

Screenwriter Yuri Zeltser is getting low-six against high-six figures for penning the picture, and has been writing a treatment for the past year and a half.

TF1 Intl. is the film sales arm of France’s TF1 TV group, the leading commercial broadcaster in France.

The idea for the picture grew out of two visits Noyce made to Chechnya in 1997 after he befriended some members of the Chechen separatist government, who were attending a charity event at the Cannes Intl. Film Festival. When Noyce went to Moscow for the premiere of “The Saint,” which he helmed, his Chechen friends invited him to make a side trip to Chechnya to see the devastation wrought by the 1994-96 war with Russia.

“I (met) many Chechens and heard their stories and the stories of their families going back for centuries,” said Noyce, who said he had long wanted to make a film like the David Lean classic “Dr. Zhivago,” which set a love story against the events of the 1917 Russian Revolution. “I realized there was a great movie to be made that reflected this experience.

“I was impressed by the people’s extraordinary resilience and their ongoing determination to forge their own nation, despite having to fight against one of the largest military forces in the world.”

Chechnya is currently suffering another military assault by Russia, which is fighting a bitter campaign to take Grozny, the capital. A Chechen separatist movement is battling the Russians with the goal of establishing an independent country.

Blood ties

The plot of “Bloodline” concerns two brothers, children of Russian emigrants living in America. One is an adopted son of Chechen descent. The two return to Russia and become embroiled in the conflict.

Noyce, Kathleen McLaughlin (president of Noyce’s production outfit Rumbalara Films) and Natasha Doubrovskaya of Red Head Films will produce “Bloodline.”

They hope that by shooting in Europe, the epic-style film can be made for a medium-sized budget of around $40 million.

Noyce said the team took the project to all the usual “conventional and unconventional” sources of financing before landing at TF1. “We heard they were interested in building relationships with non-French filmmakers, so we approached them,” he explained.

Director’s slate

Noyce will continue developing the project while working on the two films he expects to direct this year, Tom Clancy thriller “The Sum of All Fears” for Paramount, and an adaptation of the Graham Greene novel “The Quiet American” for Mirage Enterprises at Sony.

Noyce most recently helmed “The Bone Collector.” He also directed two other Clancy adaptations, “Patriot Games” and “Clear and Present Danger.”

Scribe Zeltser has “High Crimes” in development at New Regency and “The Mystery Dance” at DreamWorks under director Brad Silberling’s Reveal Entertainment.

Zeltser is repped by Paradigm and attorney Alan Hergott of Bloom, Hergott, Diemer & Klein.

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