The Russian film Mathilda, which recently entered production, may never be released internationally because of a dispute with a sidelined U.S. producer.
Mathilda, which centers on a love affair between Russia’s last emperor, Nikolai II, and ballerina Mathilda Krzesinska, was conceived in 2012 by Golden Globe-nominated Russian director Alexei Uchitel, who produced the movie with Vladimir Vinokur.
In a bid to make the project accessible for a global audience, the two brought on board David Weisman, known for Oscar-nominated Kiss of the Spider Woman, as a co-producer. However, they later changed their mind and went ahead without Weisman, Russian newspaper Izvestia reported.
Weisman was quoted by Izvestia as saying that at some point in the development stage his Russian partners just stopped communicating with him. According to the report, Weisman’s lawyers say that the U.S. producer was entitled to sizable compensation. If it is not fully paid, they will use all available legal instruments to block the film from international festival screenings or releases, the paper quoted them as saying.
Mathilda went through several script revisions and is being produced with Russian money only, some of which came from the government via its Cinema Fund. The $15 million movie is slated to premiere in Russia on Sept. 10. Uchitel is one of Russia’s best-known directors. His 2010 movie Krai (The Edge) earned him a Golden Globe nomination.
Meanwhile, writer Marina Sasina, who penned one of the earlier rejected versions of the script, recently sued the producers and was awarded $15,000 (1 million rubles) by a Moscow court.