Billionaire Len Blavatnik Closes Funding for Cannes Sidebar Hopeful 'Moscow Never Sleeps'

11:54 PM PST 02/08/2014 by Nick Holdsworth
BILLY FARRELL/PatrickMcMullan.com/Sipa Press/Newscom
Len Blavatnik

The mogul's Access Industries Group funds post production of the $3.7 million film by director Johnny O'Reilly.

BERLIN -- Irish-born, Moscow based director Johnny O'Reilly's latest project, Moscow Never Sleeps, will be ready for a hoped-for Cannes sidebar slot after AI Film, the production arm of Icon UK Group, stepped in to close financing on the $3.7 million movie.

O'Reilly pitched for the money needed to complete the project personally to Len Blavatnik, the Ukrainian-born billionaire head of Access Industries Group who also owns Warner Music and is now a U.S citizen.

The film, O'Reilly's second will be, like his debut, The Weather Station, a Russian-language title. 

"The film is as much about Moscow, the city, as it is about the ensemble cast and intermingling stories it tells," O'Reilly told The Hollywood Reporter.

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The director is represented in Hollywood by CAA and is also planning to do an English language remake of his first film, a spooky thriller set in a frozen Siberian meteorological station. O'Reilly says the Moscow movie showcases the reality of Russia's capital, which many people in the West know little of beyond the stereotypical images of the Kremlin and Red Square.

Funded by the Irish Film Board, Eurimages, the Irish tax incentive Section 481 scheme, O'Reilly is producing along with Katie Holly of Blinder Films.

Post-production is scheduled for Ireland's Windmil Lane Studios with completion anticipated before Cannes, for which O'Reilly is pitching for a official selection sidebar slot.

Blavatnik, worth an estimated $18 billion, made his money in oil before branching out to other interests. He is known both as a sharp businessman and as an affable and approachable regular at the Cannes Film Festival, where he has been photographed at exclusive parties with his wife Emily.

It is understood that AI Film came aboard as the movie fitted their project investment strategy.

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