Russian picked to direct big-budget Hollywood film

July 04, 2014 - 4:56:33 am

MOSCOW: Russian film director Fyodor Bondarchuk has been chosen for the big-budget Hollywood epic Odysseus, one of the film’s producers told AFP yesterday.

“Warner Bros chose Fyodor to direct Odysseus,” producer Michael Schlicht said. “It will be a huge spectacular epic.”

Virtually unknown in the West, 47-year-old Bondarchuk has directed a number of hugely expensive productions in Russia, including “Stalingrad”, the lavish WWII drama set around the famous battle.

Stalingrad was the first non-American film shot in Imax format and grossed a record 

$66m. It was Russia’s official selection at the Academy Awards in 2013 but received mixed reviews.

He is also the son of Sergei Bondarchuk, whose monumental 1968 adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s classic War and Peace was awarded both an Oscar and a Golden Globe.

Bondarchuk was one of Russia’s cultural figures who signed a public letter in support of President Vladimir Putin’s policy on neighbouring Ukraine ahead of Moscow’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula in March.

Schlicht said that the project is “trying to attract Russian specialists” and that Bondarchuk’s “great talent for visuals played a huge role in choosing him”.

Odysseus, based on the eponymous Greek epic poem, will have two “American stars,” he said, without naming the actors. “All Americans are glad to work with a Russian director,” he said.

Bondarchuk is the second Russian director to be invited on a big-budget action film. Timur Bekmambetov directed 2008 action thriller “Wanted” based on a comic book, followed by “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” in 2012.