Sunday, October 25, 2009

Georgia: The Movie

Hollywood is descending on Georgia (the country, not the state) for a re-telling of last year's conflict with Russia over the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. In fact the project, titled simply "Georgia", will be the biggest-ever movie production in the southern Caucasus country - Renny Harlin, of "Die Hard 2" fame will direct and Andy Garcia will star as Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili.

The filmmakers insist that their movie won't be a propaganda piece and will carry a strong anti-war message. I'm a little suspicious though since the Georgians, according to media reports, are pulling out all the stops to help get this production made. Garcia has even met privately with Saakashvili and has been working hard to master his speech patterns and mannerisms. No word on whether this includes the Saakashvili method of nervously eating one's own tie as he was caught doing by the BBC in this clip:

The Georgian army has also loaned the film crew tanks and other equipment, while thousands of Georgians turned out to recreate the "victory" celebration of August 12th, 2008 that marked the declaration of a cease-fire with Russia.

And that brings us back to the propaganda uses of "Georgia". Saakashvili, on August 12th, painted the conflict as a victory for his country, even though Russian forces were fully in control of both Abkhazia and South Ossetia, had advanced to within a couple dozen miles of Tbilisi and had sunk almost all of Georgia's navy. Saakashvili even spun last month's report on the war by the Council of Europe that debunked his two major claims - that Russia had started the conflict and had massed troops in South Ossetia for an invasion of Georgia - into a vindication of his actions. I'm sure no matter what story the movie "Georgia" tells, Saakashvili will again say it shows his country was the victim of Russian aggression.
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