Gerard Depardieu's World War II Film Gets $2 Million from Belarus

Gerard Depardieu Russia – H 2013

Gerard Depardieu Russia – H 2013

The movie about the Normandie-Niemen regiment is currently in development and is set to be a co-production between Belarus, Russia and France.

Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko has allocated $2 million to the budget of the Russian/French/Belarusian co-production Normandie-Niemen, centered on WWII French fighter pilots and featuring Gerard Depardieu.

Nikolai Borodachev, who represents Russia in the project, was quoted by the Russian newspaper Izvestia as saying that the Belarusian government's decision to fund the project was prompted by Depardieu's visit to the country several weeks ago.

He added that the film is currently in development and Depardieu is set to play a supporting role.

Contributions from Russia and France, as well as the film's total budget, have not yet been revealed.

Depardieu, who received a Russian citizenship in early 2013 by President Vladimir Putin's decree and recently became friends with Belarus' authoritarian leader Lukashenko, announced the project this past summer, stressing that it will "recreate the truth, the real story of the regiment" — as opposed to other war movies, in which wartime history was "rewritten or distorted."

Founded in 1943, the Normandie-Niemen regiment was made up of the French Air Force's three fighter squadrons, supplied and serviced by the Red Army.

Back in 1960, the regiment's story already became the subject of a feature film under the same title, Normandie-Niemen, co-produced by France and the Soviet Union and directed by Jean Dreville.

The film generated 27 million admissions in the Soviet Union and 3.5 million in France, according to the Russian database KinoPoisk.