Monday, March 30, 2009

Olympius Inferno: Movie on war in South Ossetia hits Russian screen

Last August it was played out on the battlefields of South Ossetia - and now it will be played out on screen. Russia is releasing a film adaptation of last summer's dramatic events in the Caucasus. The events of last August in South Ossetia dominated world news, and now they've made it to the big screen for the first time.

The ‘Olympius Inferno' movie tells a story of a young scientist searching for a unique butterfly he hopes to film. Instead, he ends up shooting pictures of a very different kind - the first scenes of Georgia's military action against South Ossetia. He could have escaped and saved himself - but instead he tries to get the footage to the international media to let everyone know the truth.

"Some wise man said that the devil is the father of lies. So this movie is in fact about lies taking over the society and young people trying to fight it," says ‘Olympius Inferno' director Igor Voloshin.

The Georgian ‘blitzkrieg' lasted only five days but resulted in numerous casualties and serious political tension.

Just like the main character in ‘Olympius Inferno,' RT's cameraman Aleksandr Zhukov happened to be filming in the region at the time - only to find himself in the epicentre of a war-zone.

But he was shocked to see his pictures ending up in the western media and telling a story far from the truth.

"I didn't feel like my colleagues inside the war zone were lying to each other or to the viewers. But when I saw pictures which I shot when Tskhinval was bombed shown on CNN, posed as if Russia bombed the Georgian city of Gori, I knew, that was a lie," Aleksandr Zhukov says.
Young Russian film-star Polina Filonenko plays the main character's accomplice in the ‘Olympius Inferno'. She says she took on the role to help the truth be told.

"When the war started, my cousin came to my home in St. Petersburg from Germany and said - why did your country start the war? I said - no, we didn't. She looked to me as if I was lying. But later she and the whole Europe learned the truth. I talked to people in South Ossetia who suffered in that war and I know what really happened there," Polina explains.
Even before hitting the big screen, ‘Olympius Inferno' has been criticised and labeled as propaganda. But the movie's director is untroubled.

"I don't expect everyone to like this movie. But I know for sure what those people in South Ossetia who lost their homes and relatives will feel after watching it. This movie is for them," Igor Voloshin says.

It's a view Polina Filonenko shares as well. She believes that while the movie may not become a box-office blockbuster, it delivers a clear message - that humans must remain humans even in war.

'Olympius Inferno' may be the first movie about the war still felt today, but will certainly not be the last. Emir Kusturica - the famous Oscar-nominated Serbian director - is planning another one to come out later this year.

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