Russia proposes film tourist center

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Russia In Review

Nikita Mikhalkov, president of the Union of Cinematographers of Russia, intends to launch a tourist center called “Citadel” in Nizny Novgorod Oblast, where visitors will be invited to live and study acting and filmmaking, surrounded by the scenery of famous films, mainly of Russian wars of the last few centuries.

“Here there should take place enrichment of little or already growing persons with ideas about the country they live in. It should be thematic. We are referring to the wars in Russia, the Russian army and so on,” Mikhalkov elaborated.

“For example, we will have ski trails going through the battlefield. They are signified with barbed wire, but made from rubber. Also here will be located burnt tanks, but also made from rubber, so tourists cannot get hurt while skiing. We are also going to place an antitank hedgehog, but that will be safe too.”

After preliminary assessment of the project, the government of Nizny Novgorod Oblast estimates the center will cost seven billion rubles (US$120 million).

Mikhalkov’s initiative has faced sharp criticism, in particular from Russian TV presenter and actress Ksenia Sobchak, who called the project “funny concentration camp,” analogous to the system of Soviet labor camps and prisons operating from the 1920s to the 1950s.

Okhlobystin Plans First Movie about Syrian War

Russian actor and director Ivan Okhlobystin has submitted to the country’s film studio Lenfilm the plot for a movie he calls The Smell of Violets. This could be the first feature about the Syrian war that Russian troops have been participating in for about a year.

Okhlobystin stated, “It seemed to me that in our film industry there are very few ideological movies with a good sense of quality. This scenario is about the war in Syria. It tells about a young man, a journalist who arrives in Damascus, and it centers on his internal development, against the backdrop of military conflict.”

Okhlobystin did not disclose any further details about the movie, including possible budget or actors who might be involved. Previously, he has written scripts for several films in which he had leading roles.

The popular actor and former Orthodox priest is no stranger to controversy. In December 2013, he made shocking homophobic remarks during what was called a spiritual talk in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk. “I would put all the gays alive into an oven,” he was quoted as saying by The Hollywood Reporter and other outlets. Okhlobystin had also declared his intention to run for president, but never registered as a candidate.

There is a clear demand by Russian society for war films, as among the country’s top movies of recent years are films about World War II and the Afghanistan War. Just recently, Russian film director Pavel Lungin applied to the Ministry of Culture of Russia to get state support for his new film Brotherhood, about the heroism of Russian soldiers and officers during the Soviet army’s war in Afghanistan.

DiCaprio Rumored for Putin Film

Several Russian media say Leonardo DiCaprio might be the most desired actor for the main role in the movie Putin, about the early years of the Russian president and his path to power. Statements refer to insiders and say Knightsbridge Entertainment, which is managing the project at the moment, has held negotiations with the actor.

The news has been welcomed in Russian social media, as users remind that DiCaprio has Russian origins, since his grandmother Elena Smirnova lived in the Russian Empire. In additional, several years ago Vladimir Putin called DiCaprio “a stand-up guy” at the WWF summit in St. Petersburg, after the actor reportedly donated US$1 million to support a rescue campaign for Far Eastern tigers.

The manager of Knightsbridge Entertainment for Russia, Valery Saaryan, has not confirmed the rumors, saying that there are four top actors at the moment being considered for the role of Putin.

In addition, Saaryan suggested that the script is already finished and shooting of the movie will begin soon. According to him, the script has not been vetted by representatives of the Kremlin, but the company’s lawyers have checked it thoroughly to avoid any chance of legal problems in the future.