EXCLUSIVE: Alexander Rodnyansky, the producer who in the past unveiled Leviathan and Loveless here, is back at the Cannes Film Festival to launch a new company. AR Content is designed to invest in strong scripts and source material, aimed to exploit the demand for global-minded commercial content.
“Everybody wants great material, but nobody wants to investing in developing it, and so that is why I decided that will be my focus,” Rodnyansky told Deadline. “Developing great material, and not simply financing packages. It was obvious to me the priority is to make films that are global because that is where the business is going, and I am sensitive to it, coming from a different part of the world.
“AR Content is a sister company to AR Films, which produced both Leviathan and Loveless,” he said. “This is a response to a growing demand for premium quality, particularly as streaming distribution continues to grow on an international scale. AR Content will work with Hollywood and international talent to deliver high-end film, television and limited series featuring multi-cultural and multi-lingual content.”
AR Content will develop, finance and partner with distributors. Rodnyansky is putting his own capital into it, earned from past successes in TV, film and video in the Ukraine and as CEO of the Russian media company CTC. Currently, the company’s nascent slate features the following projects:
- Debriefing the President follows events surrounding the experience of the first American to interrogate Saddam Hussein after his capture. Based on a nonfiction English-language bestseller by a CIA analyst, its recently declassified information explodes viewers’ assumptions about Saddam and many aspects of the Middle East conflict. Rodnyansky called it “Frost/Nixon meets Zero Dark Thirty. I’m not saying Saddam was a good guy, but there was a complete misunderstanding of Saddam and the Middle East. We have several offers, but we want to develop it with a great director and great writers.”
- An untitled Russian-Language series set in contemporary Moscow is being put together by writer-director Andrey Zvyagintsev, whose The Return, Leviathan and Loveless have earned international awards and nominations. He will co-write with his longtime creative partner Oleg Negin and direct. The series is being created in partnership with Paramount TV. “It is going to be done entirely in Russian, to be shot in Moscow,” Rodnyansky said.
- The Beanpole is the next film by Kantemir Balagov, the 26-year-old Russian directing sensation whose film Closeness won the FIPRESCI Prize at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival. The Beanpole is set in post-WWII Leningrad and focuses on two young women who try to rebuild their lives in a city ravaged by war as they search for meaning in their struggles.
- Black Russian is an adaptation of the nonfiction book that follows the son of a freed American slave who leaves the post-Civil War racism of the U.S. behind for Europe. After working as a porter and server, he settles in Moscow in 1899, where he becomes one of the country’s most successful entrepreneurs and the owner of Moscow’s biggest nightclub, a millionaire. But at the peak of his success, the Bolshevik revolution looms, and he is once again the enemy of his country because of his success. He moves to Constantinople (Istanbul) where he is once again a target for racism.
“[Black Russian] is an incredible true story, and these are examples of what we are looking for, timely, urgent stories that can be done by the best filmmakers,” Rodnyansky said. “We’re open to the passion projects of great writers and directors, and to the great books. We can invest serious money on their development process.”