Russia and Georgia Go to War Again — on Screen

Roundup: Pop Culture & the Arts ... Movies, Documentaries and Museum Exhibits

More than a year after Russia and Georgia clashed in a short but brutal war, the two countries are continuing their dispute on the movie screen. Russian filmmakers have already released a slick documentary as well as a romantic feature that depicts Georgia as a genocidal aggressor. Now, the Georgian government is supporting Renny Harlin, the Hollywood director who made Die Hard 2, for its own take on the conflict, complete with Andy Garcia as the embattled Georgian President standing up to Russian tanks.

Truth, famously, is the first victim in war. In the case of the Russia-Georgia conflict, the closest we'll probably get to the truth is an E.U.-led investigation that took more than a year to figure out who fired the first shot. That was Georgia, the report concluded, while also judging that Russia violated international law during the onslaught that followed. But don't expect to see any of that nuance in the films now battling it out to rewrite history...

... Saakashvili said the big-budget film was not financed by the Georgian government. "We have enough trouble funding our local directors," he said at the Ukraine gathering, which TIME attended. But the author of the screenplay, David Imedashvili, tells TIME that the initial funding for the project came from a Georgian government fund. Projects like this, he said, give Georgia a rare chance to hit back at its bullying northern neighbor. "Georgia is a very small country, Russia is a giant," Imedashvili says. "It's idiotic to fight a war with Russia, but we have to do something. We have to defend ourselves in some other way." The film's executive producer, Mirza Davitaia, who is a parliamentarian and a member of Saakashvili's political party, echoed that idea. "This is our chance to show the whole world what happened here," he says in an interview. "It is based on historical facts."

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