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Robert Bodrog

The latest film industry and film festival news across Europe.


Spielberg to Shoot New Cold War Drama in Poland in November

New York Times, May 1960

What do you get when you take Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, a script by the Coen Brothers, a musical score by John Williams, and a plot based on one of the most pivotal events of the Cold War? You get St. James Place, the director's latest production, which just wrapped its first leg of principal photography in New York.

St. James Place tells the story of what became the first spy prisoner exchange between the United States and the Soviet Union, following the shoot-down on May 1, 1960, of an American U-2 supersonic surveillance aircraft piloted by Francis Gary Powers, who was captured and convicted of espionage by the Soviets. Tom Hanks plays James Donovan, a lawyer hired by the CIA to help negotiate Powers' release. Mark Rylance, Amy Ryan, Alan Alda, and Eve Hewson co-star.
Scenes set in 1950s and 60s Berlin will be shot on location in Wrocław, Poland. Spielberg visited the city back in July to scout and confirm locations on Kurkowa Street, one of the city's main thoroughfares. Shooting is scheduled to start in the latter part of November. This will be Spielberg's first shoot in Poland since 1993 when the director shot major portions of Schindler's List in the Polish city of Krakow. He also previously considered Wrocław as a potential shooting location for his film Munich in 2004.
Spielberg will be joined on the shoot by his regular Polish-born cinematographer Janusz Kamiński, who has twice won the best cinematography Oscar; first in 1993 for Schindler's List, and in 1998 for Saving Private Ryan.
Ask anyone who works in the Polish film industry, and they'll tell you there's no shortage of buzz, media hype and anticipation regarding the director's imminent arrival. Although Poland has a thriving film and television industry, most production is based in the capital, Warsaw. So, for Spielberg to choose Wrocław is big news, and hopefully will draw attention to the city and entice other directors to consider it as a shooting location in the future, which would be an added boost for the city economically. Rafał Bubnicki of the Wroclaw Film Commission said in a recent interview with Film New Europe "[The] Steven Spielberg film is definitely the biggest project we have been a part of so far."
The film is an American-German co-production between DreamWorks and Studio Babelsberg, based in Potsdam, and is tentatively scheduled for an October 2015 U.S. release date. 

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