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Italian Film Company Signs Contract With Soviet Union

May 6, 1989

ROME (AP) _ An Italian film company said Friday it has signed an $80 million deal with a Soviet production company to produce three films, including one on the Mongol conqueror Genghis Khan.

Beppe Colombo, pesident of International Cinema Co., said a two-part, four- hour epic entitled ″Genghis Khan″ would be the first film produced in cooperation with the Soviet Cinema of Perestroika.

It will be directed by Tolomush Okeyev, whose 1975 film ″The Fierce Wolf″ received an Oscar nomination for best foreign film.

The producers said the title role in the $20 million film would go to an American actor and that negotiations were underway with an independent Los Angeles company to provide special effects. The Italian firm will provide most of the financing for the three films, Colombo added.

Filming of ″Genghis Kahn″ will begin in January in the Soviet Union and China, and is expected to last about a year. A six-hour television version of the film will be released later for worldwide distribution.

Okeyev said Genghis Kahn, whose name has become synonymous with ruthless barbarism during the 12th and 13th centuries, had always been considered a ″negative figure″ in the Soviet Union.

But he said that under perestroika, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev’s restructuring of Soviet society, Soviet officials have allowed the lives of other historical figures to be reconsidered without past prejudice.

″We want to tell the truth of how it really was,″ said Okeyev. ″It’s impossible for a man on a horse to conquer as much territory as he did without a brain.″

The second film, ″The Silent Don″ is based on the epic novel by Nobel laureate Mikhail Sholokov. It deals with the effects of World War I and the Russian Revolution on the lives of the Don Cossacks.

The two-part film will be directed by Sergei Bondarciuk, who won a 1968 foreign film Oscar for ″War and Peace,″ and later directed ″Waterloo″ and ″Ten Days That Shook the World,″ based on the life of American journalist John Reed. Colombo said Paramount studios would take part in the project, with will feature an international cast.

The third film, ″Tamerlane,″ will be directed by Ali Khamraev and is based on the life of the 14th century Mongol conqueror who claimed to be a descendant of Genghis Kahn.