'Tango & Cash' Maker Andrei Konchalovsky: "Hollywood Offers a Russian Director Nothing"

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Andrei Konchalovsky

He says he has "no desire" to go back and his Holocaust drama 'Paradise,' which made the shortlist for the foreign-language Oscar but failed to get nominated, could not have been made the same way in Tinseltown.

Andrei Konchalovsky, the director of Warner Bros.' Tango & Cash starring Sylvester Stallone, who stopped doing Hollywood work a few years ago to focus on Russian films, said this week that "Hollywood offers a Russian director nothing."

Speaking to Russian news site Russia Beyond the Headlines, Konchalovksy, whose latest film is Holocaust drama Paradise, which was among the nine movies shortlisted for this year's best foreign-language film category at the Oscars but failed to get nominated, said: "Little did I realize…that Hollywood offers a Russian film director nothing. You are needed there only as a craftsman, but if suddenly you show ambition a bit above the average level — that's it, they start putting a spanner in the works."

Konchalovsky, whose last Hollywood film was The Nutcracker in 3D with John Turturro as the Rat King, added: "I have no desire to go back to Hollywood with its existing hierarchies where we are allocated a place somewhere at the bottom of the pyramid."

Paradise is the story of a Nazi SS officer who has a brief prewar romance with a Russian noblewoman, whom he later meets when she is an inmate in a concentration camp.

The film, which won a Silver Lion for best direction at the Venice film festival last year, had its red-carpet premiere in Moscow last week and rolls out internationally in the coming weeks.

Konchalovsky, who is the elder brother of Oscar-winning Russian director Nikita Mikhalkov, said Hollywood would have never allowed him to make Paradise the way he did.

"To write a script, in which for half the film people just look at the camera in close-ups and talk — in a sense it's completely mad," he said. "If I had given such a script to a Hollywood studio, they would have told me: 'Have you gone mad?' Therefore I am happy that I now live in Russia where such madness is possible. Alas, we ourselves often don't realize what a free country we live in."

The Russian director also spoke about the challenges of making the movie, which was shot on location in France and Germany and in several languages.

Finding German actors to play Nazis proved a challenge, he said. "Actors who live in the eastern part of Germany, which used to be Soviet, play Nazis with pleasure. But all those who live in the western part categorically do not want to do this…the Germans who played the main characters are all from East Germany. And Himmler is actually played by a Russian actor, Viktor Sukhorukov."