Speaking in Berlin following the screening of Tulse Luper's Suitcases, Part II, maverick British director Peter Greenaway revealed details of his next major project - a Russian language epic set in the aftermath of the 30 Years War.
Augsbergenfeld, as the project is called, is a historical, baroque film about an anatomist "looking for the human soul'he's optimistic enough to think he can find it, maybe as part of the brain or the cortex or the heart." At the time the film will be set, Europe is full of corpses "of all denominations." The anatomist travels the battlefields of Europe, looking for bodies to operate on.
Greenaway conceived Augsbergenfeld at the same time as The Cook, The Thief and Prospero's Books. He is touting it as a "Magnificent Seven-like concept" in which "seven generals conduct the end of the 30 Years War, the big schism between Protestantism and Catholicism in Europe." There will be 14 main parts.
Greenaway is currently casting the film and will shortly begin to look for locations. "It will basically be a Russian film," Greenaway explained. He added that the present Minister of Culture in Vladimir Putin's government wrote his PHD thesis on The Cook, The Thief, His Wife And Her Lover and is eager to support the project.
The project, likely to shoot in St Petersburg, will again be produced by Greenaway's regular partner, Kees Kasander. It's yet to be decided which will shoot first, Augsbergenfeld or English-language project, the black comedy 55 Men On Horseback. Kasander has confirmed that he wants to bring sales outfit Fortissimo aboard on both projects.
In the meantime, Greenaway will lay the Tulse Luper project to rest in typically grandiose style. Part III won't be ready for Cannes, but during the Venice Festival, in tandem with Instituto Luce, Greenaway and his team will co-ordinate "a big splash of the whole seven-hour cinematic product." The idea is to use satellites to beam down the HD material simultaneously in various European capitals: Venice, Rome, Paris, Berlin, and (possibly) London and Oslo.
Though he now describes himself as a "European filmmaker," Greenaway acknowledged that the support of the British Film Institute Production Board was "essential" in kick-starting his career and bemoaned the decision to close BFI production down. "The funding condition in the UK now and certainly for anyone who wants to take risks is extremely difficult'Peter Greenaway starting now would find it very difficult," he said.