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Schlondorff to direct love story

'Ulzan' to be filmed in Kazakhstan

More than a quarter of a century after “The Tin Drum,” Volker Schlondorff, scribe Jean-Claude Carriere and David Bennent, have reunited to make a film that shows Kazakhstan in a different light from “Borat.”

“Ulzan,” stars Gallic thesp Philippe Torreton as a grief-stricken man who finds love — and fantastic scenery — while travelling across the former Soviet republic.

Bennent plays a mysterious intruder on the heels of Torreton and Ulzhan, the nomad woman he falls for, played by Kazakh actress Ayanat Ksenbai. The score was written by Bruno Coulais.

“He has lost none of his power and magnestism,” Schlondorff said about Bennent, who after childhood fame in “The Tin Drum” as the character Oskar grew up to become a theater actor working with director Peter Brook.

The idea to shoot a film in Kazakhstan came from Carrière, who became fascinated with the region after a visit.

“Jean-Claude called me up with a rough idea for a story and we took it from there,” recalled the helmer.

“At the time we had no clue about “Borat.” Contrary to that film, which was shot in Romania, our’s will probably be a boost to the country’s tourism,” he quipped.

The film’s action shifts from the Caspian Sea across the Steppes to the shrinking Aral Sea and Kazakhstan’s new capital Astana, built with the country’s oil revenues.

But unlike many of the helmer’s films — including his latest, “Strike,” (about Poland’s Solidarity movement) “Ulzan” isn’t political.

“It is a love story and a road movie,” said the helmer.

French distributor and sales agent Rezo will be showing a promo reel of the Franco-German “Ulzhan,” produced by Paris-based Fly Time, at the Berlin market.

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