A group of Russian religious philanthropists have announced plans to finance a number of big budget Hollywood feature films focused on Russia. Andrei Poklonsky, chairman of the Russian Club of Orthodox Philanthropists, told Izvestia that one of the first projects to be funded will be the story from the life of 14th-century Turko-Mongol conqueror Timur, also known as Tamerlane the Great. Australian actor Hugh Jackman is said to be being considered for the lead role.
Poklonsky told Izvestia that the script for the film, which is currently being written, “combines an exciting plot, strong characters and no-nonsense drama”. The story follows the life of the famous Central Asian conqueror, reaching its climax when Timur’s attempt to invade Russian land is foiled when he sees the Virgin Mary in a dream telling him to retreat.
“Long before the discovery of America, we had a great civilization. At the end of the 14th century this was under threat,” Poklonsky told Izvestia. “Tamerlane’s invincible army of 200,000 soldiers was set to plough through our lands of only 35,000 fighters. There was seemingly no chance for us, but after the whole country prayed for deliverance, the Mother of God told Tamerlane in a dream to retreat. Faith saved our country.”
Hollywood producer Ralph Winter, known for his work on X-Men, Fantastic Four and Star Trek, is said to have already expressed interest in the project, although a director for the upcoming flick has yet to be found.
The entire budget for the film will be covered by private funding from the Orthodox organisation and from Hollywood studios, and will not be financially supported by Russia’s Ministry of Culture or the Russian Cinema Fund.
Formed in 2003, the Russian Club of Orthodox Philanthropists brings together Orthodox entrepreneurs from a variety of business spheres in Russia, using private donations to restore Orthodox churches, provide assistance to the poor, orphanages and asylums, Izvestia reported. “Our club has an exclusively missionary purpose — to strengthen and spread the Orthodox faith has expanded and strengthened, so that our country can live as a united whole. All our projects are designed to alleviate social tensions and to assert life’s true values,” Poklonsky said.
The Russian organisation is also considering investment of around 100m roubles ($2.75m) for the filming of a biopic about Vladimir Svyatoslavich, prince of Novgorod and ruler of the Kievan Rus (considered by many as the forerunner of the Russian state) from 980 to 1015.