Actor Garcia to play Georgia's Saakashvili in film: report

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The Independent Culture

US actor Andy Garcia has arrived in Tbilisi to portray Georgia's flamboyant President Mikheil Saakashvili in a film on last year's Georgia-Russia war, local television reported Monday.

Rustavi-2 television said Garcia arrived in the Georgian capital late Sunday and would spend the next two days filming scenes in the presidential residence.

Finnish-American action movie director Renny Harlin announced in August he was shooting the film. Best known for action movies such as "Die Hard 2" and "Cliffhanger," Harlin told Variety magazine he was keen to make a serious movie based around the conflict.

Harlin's film would follow an American journalist and a cameraman who get caught up in the fighting. Harlin said the movie would be a "strong antiwar statement."

Georgian media have raised questions about the film's impartiality, pointing out that one of the film's producers, Papuna Davitaia, is a pro-Saakashvili member of parliament.

Russian media have reported that Serbian director Emir Kusturica is also planning a film on the conflict from the South Ossetian point of view. Kusturica visited South Ossetia earlier this month and met with senior officials.

Georgia and Russia have competed to put their own spin on what happened during the war, which saw Russian forces pour into Georgia to repel a Georgian military attempt to retake the rebel region of South Ossetia.

Russian forces occupied swathes of Georgian territory and bombed targets across the country before mostly withdrawing into South Ossetia and another rebel Georgian region, Abkhazia, which Moscow later recognised as independent countries.

Tbilisi contends it was facing a large-scale Russian invasion before the attack on South Ossetia, while Moscow insists it was protecting Russian citizens and peacekeeping forces in the region from an unwarranted Georgian attack.