EXCLUSIVE: F&ME to produce The President, set to shoot in Georgia in early 2014.

Film and Music Entertainment (F&ME) will produce Award-winning Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s first English-language feature.

The President will shoot in Georgia in early 2014, marking Makhmalbaf’s first fiction feature since The Man Who Came with the Snow in 2009.

The story is set in a fictional Caucasus country and is about a dictator whose regime is brought down by a coup d’etat. He and his young grandson have to travel across the country disguised as street musicians, and he gets to know the ordinary people he ruled in a new light.

“After the Arab Spring, a number of dictators fell: Ben Ali, Mubarak, Gadhaffi,” said writer/director Makhmalbaf, “but statistics show that there are over 40 dictators of this kind still in power. 

“In the course of the Arab Spring and in the search for democracy, we have witnessed a lot of violence wither by the attack of foreign countries (as in the case of Libya where tens of thousands of people were killed) or as the result of internal conflicts where one hundred thousand people have been killed and millions injured and become refugees. 

“As the result of all this violence, the road to democracy appears more and more difficult for these countries.”

The President will shoot in Georgia as a UK-Georgia-Germany co-production. Mike Downey and Sam Taylor’s F&ME is reteaming with Vladimer Katcharava’s 20 Steps, after the companies worked together earlier this year on Ben Hopkins’ Epic. The German partner on The President is Rudolph Herzog’s Bruemmer and Herzog Filmproduktion.

Downey said: “The President is an attempt in film terms to propose a solution to avoid violence in future revolutions which are truly seeking freedom and democracy. The story is challenging, exciting and compelling and with a final twist that will leave the audience asking themselves just where they stand.

“There is a huge space for film makers of conscience like Mohsen, and given F&ME’s aims and current slate, our partnership is a very natural fit.”

Makhmalbaf had taken a break from filmmaking while he had been travelling the globe as the spokesman for the Iranian Green movement.

Makhmalbaf, 57, holds a French passport and currently lives in exile in London. He left Iran after the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005.  His past films include Kandahar, Boycott, The Bicyclist, and The Gardener.