Raphael Berdugo’s Paris-based Cité Films is launching sales at EFM on “The Jew,” a Soviet-era drama toplined by the action star popularly dubbed “Russia’s Rambo.”
Set after the Second World War, the film follows Mikhail Krasnitsky, who travels across the Soviet Union committing a series of murders for no apparent reason. Soon the secret service uncovers a connection between the string of cold-blooded killings: the victims were all former Soviet death camp guards who collaborated with the Nazi regime.
Directed by Dmitriy Fiks, “The Jew” features Russian action star Artur Smolyaninov, who was the lead in the Afghan War drama “The 9th Company,” which has been called one of Russian president Vladimir Putin’s favorite films.
Since the Ukraine invasion, Smolyaninov has been an outspoken critic of the Kremlin’s war and was forced to flee Russia after being branded a “foreign agent.” He has since insisted that he’s willing to take up arms against his former countrymen to defend the sovereignty of the Ukrainian people.
Fiks has also fled Russia for the U.S.
“The Jew” was mostly shot in Latvia in the summer of 2021, well before the start of the Ukraine war. Berdugo, who is also on board as a co-producer, acknowledged that global geopolitics currently make the film a tough sell with foreign buyers.
At the same time, Smolyaninov’s anti-war stance — which makes him an enemy of the state in his home country — rules out any chance of the film being released in Russia, “even if our team is against the war,” said Berdugo. “We’re stuck somewhere in the middle.”
The producers nevertheless insisted that “The Jew” have its market premiere in Berlin in order to “make some noise” around a film that Berdugo described as “an act of resistance.” “It’s demonstrating that crimes against humanity cannot be forgiven,” he said.
“The Jew” is produced by Fiks (Motor Film Studio), Igor Tolstunov and Evgeniy Gindilis (Profit), and Guntis Trekteris (Ego Media), and co-produced by Berdugo (Cité Films). Tolstunov and Berdugo first teamed up 25 years ago, when they co-produced Pavel Chukhrai’s Academy Award-nominated “The Thief.”