Georgia and Russia resume hostilities – on the big screen

Rival productions offer very different accounts of 2008 military conflict

Moscow

Since military hostilities between Georgia and Russia ceased in August 2008, the battle between the two nations has been continued on the big screen with both sides backing films that are high on patriotism and low on nuance. The latest salvo is a Kremlin-funded film called August 8th, referencing the date on which the 2008 war started.

The big-budget film is laden with special effects and features brave Russian soldiers dodging bullets from black-masked Georgian aggressors, using a narrative of the war very much in line with Russia's official stance. President Dmitry Medvedev, who is played by an actor in the film, praised its storyline and said it had a "very important mission to tell the truth".

The film could not be more different from a Hollywood movie released last year entitled Five Days of War that was directed by Renny Harlin, who made the Die Hard films. That film starred Andy Garcia as the Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and presented an equally one-sided account of the war, involving bloodthirsty Russian soldiers who shot on sight, at one point attacking a wedding party. Izvestia newspaper called August 8th "a symmetrical response to Hollywood". Relations between Russia and Georgia have not recovered from the five-day war, which began when Georgia launched an assault on its unruly breakaway province of South Ossetia. Russia responded by repelling the Georgian attack and invading Georgia.

In the aftermath of the war, Moscow recognised South Ossetia and another separatist Georgian region, Abkhazia, as independent states. Almost no other countries have followed suit and Georgia refers to the two regions as under occupation by Russian forces.

An EU report into the origins of the war placed the blame on both sides, finding that Georgia was responsible for the initial attack, but that it came against a background of long-term Russian baiting and provocations. Russia and Georgia chose to ignore the parts of the report that criticised them and both claimed that it vindicated their own differing narratives of how the war started.

It seems that both sides have decided that the big screen is one of the best places to parade these narratives. The latest Russian offering is slicker than the Kremlin's first attempt, a television drama made for Russia's state-run television in 2009. In that film, entitled Olympius Inferno, the Georgian army was portrayed as shooting innocent civilians in the back while being commanded in the field by US generals. The film also rehashed all the Kremlin's fury at supposed biased media coverage of the war – when the lead character in the film accidentally records video footage proving Georgia started the war, the Western media collaborates with the Georgian government to destroy the tapes.

The new film is not quite as blunt, but still portrays a one-sided account of the war. It is being shown on about 1,500 screens in Russia and its release comes as the two countries are engaging in a fresh round of diplomatic slanging. In recent weeks, Mr Saakashvili announced that he was immediately annulling visas for all Russians wanting to visit Georgia and called on Russia to make the same move for Georgians.

Yesterday the Russian Foreign Ministry took to Twitter, calling the statements "a mere pretence of peacefulness".

The ministry also referred to Mr Saakashvili's "paranoid hostility and megalomania".

Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
Arts and Entertainment
TV
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Former Communards frontman Jimmy Somerville
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne as transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl
filmFirst look at Oscar winner as transgender artist
Arts and Entertainment
Season three of 'House of Cards' will be returning later this month
TV reviewHouse of Cards returns to Netflix
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford will play Rick Deckard once again for the Blade Runner sequel
film review
Arts and Entertainment
The modern Thunderbirds: L-R, Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon and John in front of their home, the exotic Tracy Island
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
film review
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Bytes, camera, action: Leehom Wang in ‘Blackhat’
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Libertines will headline this year's festival
music
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Dean Anderson in the original TV series, which ran for seven seasons from 1985-1992
tv
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
    Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

    What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

    Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
    The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

    Setting in motion the Internet of Things

    British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
    Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

    Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

    Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
    Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

    Cult competition The Moth goes global

    The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
    Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

    Pakistani women come out fighting

    Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
    Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

    Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

    The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
    LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

    Education: LGBT History Month

    Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
    11 best gel eyeliners

    Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

    Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

    After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot