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Cannes: Film and Music Ent. Pacts with Independent Film Studio for U.K.-Georgian Co-Production ‘Shindisi’

Mike Downey’s Film and Music Entertainment has teamed with Independent Film Studios, 20 Steps and Lakumi in the former Soviet republic of Georgia to produce U.K.-Georgian co-production “Shindisi.” Los Angeles-based director Nick Agiashvili will direct the project, based on a true story of the Russian invasion of Georgia.

Agiashvili, best known for his “Tbilisi, I Love You,” “A Green Story” and “The Harsh Life of Veronica Lambert,” will direct from a screenplay by Irakli Solomavnashvili.

Pic takes place in the village of Shindisi during the August War, which changes the life of an ordinary Georgian peasant forever. In the heart of Shinidisi, a heavily-armed Russian military unit occupying the village breaks the promise of a peaceful corridor given to Georgians and opens fire on Georgian soldiers lured into the ambush. One part of the Georgian soldiers take fire on themselves enabling the 25 fellow warriors to leave the battlefield.

It stars Merab Ninidze, who had the lead role in Tengiz Abuladze’s “Repentance.” He also appeared in Steven Spielberg’s “Bridge of Spies” and the Academy Award winning “Nowhere in Africa.” He is backed by Misha Gomiashvili, who took the title role in Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s “The President,” Dato Bakhtadze, one of the stars of Timur Bekmambetov’s “Ben-Hur,” and Ia Sukhitashvili from “Blind Dates” and “Smile.” The score will be composed by Gia Kancheli.

F&ME has long been active in the Caucasus region, and this is their fourth official co-production with Georgia, following Ben Hopkins and Pawel Pawlikowski’s “Lost in Karastan,” Venice opener “The President” by Mohsen Makhmalbaf, and Mariam Khatchvani’s “Dede,” all in partnership with 20 Steps Production.

“Our story will show the violence and brutality of war,” producer Vova Katcharava said. “It will show what really happened on the ground. It will deal with friendship, bravery, self-sacrifice and extraordinary courage that it takes to survive and fight for what one believes in. Our story is a small story, but a story that has to be remembered.”

The film begins shooting in Shindisi on the actual location of the original events in September as a Georgia-U.K. co-production. The producer is Edmond Minashvili, whose previous films on the subject are “Shindisi Heroes” and “Russian Corridor.”

Minashvili produces alongside 20 Steps’ Vova Katcharava and Lakumi’s Konstantin Mindia Esadze (who doubles as cinematographer) and F&ME’s Downey and Samantha Taylor.

“2008 was the hardest and most tragic for our country,” Minashvili said. “August for me was, is and will remain as the most cold and frosty month. I will never forget those moments when I heard about death of my old friend, a great patriot and talented poet, Mikhail Dvalishvili, who gave his life on the battlefield of Shindisi. It is impossible to explain my inner state at that moment, I cannot express what I felt. Now the time has come to introduce his name and the names of the Shindisi heroes to the world and with this motivation we are starting making the feature film.”

“It is great to be embarking on our fourth official co-production with Georgia,” said Film and Music Entertainment’s Mike Downey. “We were one of the first international companies in on the ground in Georgia and we are glad that we have been able to build up a reciprocal two-way street of co-producing each other’s films. Later in the year we will be bringing in Rudolph Herzog’s black comedy ‘How To Sell a War,’ making it production number five. It really helps now that the tax credits will be really bedded in at about our time of shooting.”

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