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Wajda begins shooting ‘Walesa’ on Dec 1 in the Baltic port city of Gdansk, where the then-union leader kicked off the Solidarity movement in 1980 that helped lead to the downfall of communism. (AP)
Wajda to make Walesa biopic Weinstein desires to become recognized brand

WARSAW, Nov 25, (Agencies): Poland’s famed director Andrzej Wajda unveiled plans Thursday for a biopic about Lech Walesa, his country’s communist-era Solidarity opposition leader, Nobel Peace laureate and ex-president.
“This film is going to be the hardest of my career,” Wajda, 85, told reporters, underlining the task he faces in depicting an icon who left an indelible mark on history by helping bring down the Iron Curtain.
The Polish film industry has never produced a movie about Walesa, who is now 68. “I don’t want to, but I have to,” Wajda quipped, borrowing a phrase from Walesa about running for president after the communist regime fell in 1989 which entered Polish folklore. Shooting of the film, entitled simply “Walesa”, begins on Dec 1. It is planned for release in the autumn of 2012.
Wajda said Walesa approved.

“If he didn’t trust me, he’d have told me so,” he added. As a shipyard electrician, Walesa led Solidarity, a union born during a 1980 strike in the Baltic port of Gdansk.
It won grudging recognition from Poland’s communist authorities, a landmark move behind the Iron Curtain.
In 1981, however, the regime imposed martial law to smother Solidarity.
The union stayed alive underground. Walesa won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983 for his non-violent opposition.
Solidarity returned to the limelight in 1989, negotiating an election deal with the authorities and scoring a victory that brought down the regime, speeding the demise of communist rule in Europe by 1991. In 1990, Walesa became Poland’s first democratically elected president since World War II, serving one five-year term.
He remains a respected democracy campaigner and has lent his know-how to Arab Spring activists.

The film’s script has been written by Polish author Janusz Glowacki.
“I didn’t want to raise a monument or build a shrine. I wanted to depict a strong man, but one who also has his weaknesses,” said Glowacki.
The plot begins in 1970, when shipyard protests by workers including the young Walesa were crushed by the authorities, and runs through to the fall of the regime.
Walesa will be played by Robert Wieckiewicz, 44, while Agnieszka Grochowska, 31, will feature as his wife Danuta. Both actors are relative stalwarts of Polish cinema but not A-list names, in an apparent attempt to keep the spotlight on their characters.

“For financial reasons, we had to drop the idea of casting Monica Belluci as the journalist Oriana Fallaci,” said Wadja, referring to the famed Italian reporter journalist who interviewed Walesa in the 1980s.
Wajda said that one major challenge of making the film would be to combine period footage with scenes shot today.
“This film can’t be based just on its actors. It’s impossible to revive the dozens of key players from the period,” he said.
His cinematographer is Pawel Edelman, who worked on Wajda’s 2007 film “Katyn” about the eponymous 1940 Soviet massacre of thousands of Polish military officers including Wajda’s father. Edelman also worked on Roman Polanski’s 2002 “The Pianist”, which won a best-director Oscar.
Wajda himself won an honorary Oscar in 2000 for lifetime achievement.
Over a 55-year career, he has made dozens of films and is a three-time Oscar nominee: in 1976 for “The Promised Land”, 1979 for “The Maids of Wilko” and 1982 for “Man of Iron”. The latter film touched on the birth of Solidarity and Walesa had a bit-part playing himself.

NEW YORK: While Harvey Weinstein has no plans to roar like the MGM lion before each of his movies, the Oscar-winning producer wants to turn the film studio bearing his family’s name into a recognizable brand. His wish list includes branding on par with Facebook’s F, Twitter’s T and Apple’s, well, apple.
While he says he will continue to use the “the black and white logo that looks like it’s from high school in 1954,” he’s letting his films this week do the talking — or at least one of them.
Already in theaters is “My Week with Marilyn,” starring two-time Oscar nominee Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe. It’s based on the writings of Colin Clark, who spent a week with the iconic actress in 1957 while she was filming “The Prince and the Showgirl” in the United Kingdom.
Weinstein, who heads The Weinstein Co with his brother, explained the subject matter’s appeal to him.
“I wanted to be that 23-year old boy and spend a week with Marilyn Monroe and go skinny-dipping,” Weinstein has said. “Haven’t we all dreamed of being with someone that gorgeous?”

But this is not another Monroe biopic. Weinstein calls it “a snapshot movie about one episode in her life.” He equates the film’s tone with his 2010 Oscar winner for best picture, “The King’s Speech,” about a speech therapist who helps King George VI.
With production credits in such Broadway hits as “Billy Elliot,” ‘’The Producers” and “God of Carnage,” Weinstein always has his eyes on Broadway. He admits it’s a dream to bring “My Week with Marilyn” to the great stage in “five to 10 years.” And when that happens, he has his heart set on seeing Monroe played by singer Katy Perry, whom he met while taking his daughters to the annual Jingle Ball concert at Madison Square Garden last year.
“I think Katy would be perfect to play Marilyn Monroe,” Weinstein said, adding: “She would knock it out of the universe.”

Weinstein’s other new film, “The Artist,” which comes out Friday, is a modern homage to the silent film era and was the darling of the Cannes and Toronto International film festivals. It was shot in black and white using the original 4:3 aspect ratio.
While the film is not your typical studio release, Weinstein doesn’t concern himself with such things.
“With a script or a book I try to do what would appeal to me,” he says proudly. “I’m not here to do the mainstream movies.”
And the results are promising. Weinstein likes the buzz both films are getting, but his source isn’t what you’d expect: It’s the website, which compiles reviews and assigns percentage scores based on the average.
“I just go to Rotten Tomatoes to check on who’s writing, and I read some of the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes,” he said. “I like the site. It’s fun. I like the interviews on the site.”
Weinstein was proud to report Wednesday the Monroe film was at 85 percent. And “The Artist” was trending a bit higher, based on reviews going back to April, when it played at Cannes.
“I wish I could brand the movies in a way so they would just look at the page and trust me rather than a critic or anything else,” Weinstein said.

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