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French Thesp Vahina Giocante Plays Mata Hari

U.S. helmer Dennis Berry directs miniseries about exotic dancer and spy

LONDON — French actress Vahina Giocante, who performance in “Lila Says” was liked by its New York Times’ reviewer to that of Brigitte Bardot in “And God Created Woman,” is to play exotic dancer, courtesan and spy Mata Hari in a TV drama miniseries that is to shoot in Portugal and Russia.

The cast of “Mata Hari,” which is produced by Russia’s Star Media, also includes Rutger Hauer, Christopher Lambert, Oisin Stack, Alexei Guskov and Fedor Bondarchuk. The series is directed by American helmer Dennis Berry, whose credits include “Highlander” and “Stargate SG-1.”

The drama follows the life of Margaret Zelle, later known as Mata Hari, who was born in the Netherlands. After her mother died she was abandoned by her father. She married a Dutch army officer and went to live on the island of Java. She later ran away from her tyrannical husband, and lost custody of their daughter.

She became an exotic dancer and performed in theaters across Europe. She moved to Paris, where she gained access to French aristocratic circles. After being accused of spying for Germany, she was executed in 1917, at the age of 41.

“Mata Hari is a multicultural personality,” said Star Media general producer Vlad Ryashin. “Although loved by many, this extraordinary woman was lonely and found her own true love only at the end of her short but dramatically flamboyant life. This is a story of an exceptionally strong woman.”

“I’ve always dreamed of filming a saga,” Berry said. “I’d like to tell the story of the last 15 years of Mata Hari’s life in a lyrical manner that would evoke strong feelings as well as show the dazzlingly spectacular world of that eccentric time we call the Belle Epoque.”

Filming is taking place in Lisbon, Portugal and St. Petersburg, Russia. Oleg Lukichev (“Yuri’s Day”) is the director of photography.

The miniseries will be screened next year on Channel One in Russia, and on the Inter channel in Ukraine.

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