“Cinema Paradiso” is one of my favourite films of all time. More than just a classic, it is a beautiful work of art about the glorious power of cinema. If you have not watched it, you owe it to yourself to do so before you die. It’s directed by Italian Giuseppe Tornatore, who also did “Malena”, another lovely film.
When Variety broke the news today that a long-delayed project of Tornatore’s finally found its financing, I rejoiced. Anytime the man makes a film it’s cause to celebrate. Especially if it’s an epic like “Leningrad”, a World War II action-drama about the historic battle to capture the Russian city (now known as St Petersburg).
After years of uncertainty about whether it would see light of day, producer Avi Lerner (“The Expendables”) together with Millennium Films/Nu Image came to the rescue. The agreed budget is US$100 million, which is a very healthy sum even for large-scale productions like these. That’s because the film will most likely be shot in Eastern Europe, where the US dollar goes a long way. The film will be in the English-language, making it more marketable to US audiences anyway.
“Leningrad” tells of the 900-day Nazi attack on the city, which was one of the most destructive sieges in history in terms of casualties and damage to the city itself. One main point of concern about the project was the rather grim tone, which Lerner addressed with his director. He told Variety that: ”We have had discussions about the screenplay with Tornatore. We have agreed to make it more upbeat.”
Tornatore has begun casting the two main roles, and is actively speaking to several high-profile actors like Nicole Kidman. She is reportedly keen on doing it, but scheduling conflicts seem to be getting in the way. The film is set to start rolling cameras in December 2012, so nothing is set in stone just yet. Electroshadow will be watching the developments closely…