Feature

Georgia: Wooing the U.S. with Georgia: The Movie

Georgia’s president is trying to get back on America’s good side—by making a Hollywood movie, said Benjamin Bidder in Der Spiegel. 

Benjamin Bidder
Der Spiegel (Germany)

Georgia’s president is trying to get back on America’s good side—by making a Hollywood movie, said Benjamin Bidder. When President Mikheil Saakashvili took over the former Soviet republic in the peaceful Rose Revolution of 2003, the U.S. couldn’t get enough of him. A lawyer trained at Columbia University, Saakashvili talked a good democracy game and seemed a natural U.S. ally. Since then, though, he has cracked down on opposition protesters and shut down TV stations that criticized him. When he provoked a conflict with Russia in 2008, the Americans had enough and relegated him to “the political margins.”

So now, Saakashvili is going directly to the American people. He has launched a film project, Georgia 2008, which aims to tell Georgia’s side of its war with Russia. Hollywood big shots such as Andy Garcia and Val Kilmer are to star in the film about Western reporters who document how plucky Georgia stands up to big, bad Russia. It’s a bit heavy-handed, but the premise might work—if only Saakashvili hadn’t hired “mediocre” Finnish director Renny Harlin. To be effective, propa­ganda must be subtle. Does Saakashvili really think the director of Cliffhanger and Die Hard 2 can “burnish his tarnished image”?

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