Macedonian director Milcho Manchevski goes back behind the camera today, finally going into production in New York on Dust, his long-cherished "epic western" which was originally set up in 1995 as a co-production between Robert Redford's South Fork Pictures and Miramax Films.
The movie is now being backed by a host of European sources led by UK Lottery franchise The Film Consortium (TFC) whose chief executive Chris Auty is one of three producers along with Vesna Jovanoska (Secret Society) and Domenico Procacci (Bad Boy Bubby, The Quiet Room). South Fork, the lower budget division of Redford's Wildwood Enterprises, remains a co-producer.
Joseph Fiennes, David Wenham, Adrian Lester and Anne Brochet head the cast of the film which is the story of two brothers (Fiennes and Wenham) who fall in love with the same woman (Brochet). Set in 1913, the story of "love, revenge and fratricide" takes them from mid-western America to the ethnic cleansing of the dying Ottoman Empire in the Balkans. Certain passages are also set in contemporary New York.
International sales are being handled by Alison Thompson at The Sales Company - which is 25% owned by TFC. Thompson will bow the film to buyers at the Cannes Film Market in May, with delivery set for early 2001.
Dust is a TFC presentation of a History Dreams/ena Film/Fandango production in association with the European Co-Production Fund, BSkyB, Filmstiftung North Rhine Westfalia (NRW), The Arts Council Of England, Italian distributor Medusa Film, German distributor Highlight Communications, The Macedonian Ministry Of Culture, Shadow Dooel and South Fork Pictures.
It's been a rocky road for Manchevski since he shared the Golden Lion at Venice in 1994 for his bold first film Before The Rain with Tsai Ming-liang's Vive L'Amour. The director had his pick of projects in Hollywood when Before The Rain won an Oscar nomination in 1995 for Best Foreign Language Film.
When Dust stalled at Miramax, he flirted with a host of big-budget films including An Alan Smithee Film for Cinergi, A Perfect Murder for Arnold Kopelson Productions and Warner Bros, The Devil's Own for Columbia Pictures and From Potter's Field for Universal, but none came about with him in the director's chair.
In the meantime, he directed several music videos including Tennessee by Arrested Development which won an MTV music award for Best Rap Video.
Dust was reconfigured for a while at Gallery Motion Pictures, a division of Etchie Stroh's Moonstone Entertainment, with Richard Gere briefly attached to star. However Manchevski put the project on hold again to direct Ravenous for Fox 2000. He started to shoot Ravenous, a period adventure about a cannibal striking a small group of soldiers, but was fired by Fox two weeks into production. "Creative differences" were cited and he was replaced by Antonia Bird.
As before, Manchevski again returned to his labour of love project Dust which this time was reconfigured in Europe.
The film shoots in New York for two weeks before moving to Macedonia followed by a studio shoot in Cologne, Germany, in late July. Post-production will take place in London. Director of photography on the picture is Barry Ackroyd, whose credits include Ken Loach movies Bread And Roses, My Name Is Joe, Carla's Song, Land And Freedom, Raining Stones and Riff-Raff.
Australian actor David Wenham, who plays one of the brothers, is best known for his role in The Boys (1997) but also appeared in Idiot Box (1996), Cosi (1996), A Little Bit Of Soul (1998) and Baz Luhrmann's upcoming Moulin Rouge.