Jacqueline, a Paris society hostess (Faye Dunaway) introduces a fellow American, businessman Andrew Lamont (Steven Brand) to a beautiful young Russian girl, Daria Larina (Agata Gotova), while he is on vacation in Europe. She is the kind of woman who will turn the eye of every man when she walks into a room. Andrew is fascinated by her, as Jacqueline knew he would be. He woos Daria with flowers and dinners. Eventually he wins her over and together they go to Moscow, where he meets Daria’s father Raf (Rade Serbedzija), a former mafia oligarch, but now Russia’s Minister of Internal Affairs.
Raf lives in a magnificent mansion with his “Russian doll” blonde girlfriend (Musetta Vander), whom he is about to marry. He had kept news of the wedding from his daughter and is furious that she has found out about it and shown up with this American. He wants her to go back to Paris immediately. Daria is terribly hurt, believing that her father has no love for her. She doesn’t know, and he won’t tell her, that because he loves her so much he wants her as far away as possible. If she stays she will be in mortal danger and he is unable to protect her.
Raf’s past life has come back to haunt him. He is under pressure from a gang of dangerous hoodlums to secure the release from prison of their boss, and Raf’s onetime friend and colleague, Oleg Rozhin (Steven Berkoff). Raf’s worst fears are realized when Daria is kidnapped and taken to a remote hut in the forest. He goes to the prison with a signed document authorizing the release of his nemesis. The prison governor looks at him suspiciously, but Raf is his superior and the sinister Rozhin gets his freedom.
Andrew traces Daria’s kidnappers. He is outnumbered, but lures most of them away from the hut. He overpowers the remaining guard and escapes with Daria, riding a horse-drawn sled through the snow-covered forest, the heavily armed gangsters in hot pursuit.
With Rozhin out of jail, the wedding proceeds. But Rozhin has more than freedom on his mind. He wants revenge for the years he spent locked up and for the betrayal by his one-time friend. What is supposed to be the happiest of days becomes the bloodiest of days as gunfire erupts outside the church.
The filming of “Say It In Russian” was a complex operation, with four different crews shooting in Russia in the snow (twice), Paris in the rain, Malibu in the sun, downtown Los Angeles and on sound stages north of L.A.—all in a six week period.
Much of the film’s plot was based on true events in the life of the producers. A young Russian woman meets an American businessman in Paris and they fall in love. Together they travel to Moscow to attend her father’s wedding. But things don’t work out quite the way they had hoped. Mobsters who want him to release their boss, and his former colleague, from jail, threaten the father, a senior government official. All are in grave danger.
Despite the experience the filmmakers had of working in Russia they weren’t prepared for problems awaiting them. Crew members attempted to extort them for more money. They even had problems filming a wedding scene in a church. The bishop threatened to bring in the police if they continued to shoot. The problem was not that they were filming a wedding, but that an actor performing the wedding was dressed as a priest. That was sacrilegious.
So, after several painful days the film company quit and returned later, picking a different—and honest—crew, and had a much happier shoot. They hired an ex KGB officer to clear a bureaucratic path for them. When he showed his “red passport” to policemen trying to stop filming in Red Square, they melted into the distance.
On the day the group was set to leave Moscow they found their way to the airport blocked by a parade and the police would not let them pass. Leading lady Agata Gotova is not the kind of person to accept such a situation. When she was told that the head of the Moscow Police was sitting in a car up ahead, she ran at top speed through the heavy snow until she reached him. She pleaded with him, saying that the crew’s visas were about to expire. They just had to make their flight. The man looked at the beautiful young woman’s large eyes, picked up his phone and said, “Let them through.”
In Paris everything worked at peak efficiency. The entire segment of the movie was shot in one 20-hour day, the Opera House, the Seine, city streets, some done without permits. “The police are coming. We must go now to the next place,” was the cry from the first a.d. Paris interiors were filmed in California.
“We sucked every inch out of the city we could get,” says director Celentano. He was anxious to find one particular street where he had previously stayed with his wife. They scouted all day for that street and were just about to give up when they stumbled on it. It was rue du Moscou-Moscow Street.
About the filmmakers….Writer/director Jeff Celentano, a former actor, had his first feature produced by his own company, “Under the Hula Moon,” premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. This is the second film he has directed in Russia, the first being “Moscow Heat.” Executive producer/writer Kenneth Eade, co-founder of Independent Film Development Corporation, started out producing a Russian television series in which Agata Gotova interviewed Hollywood stars on the red carpet, followed by an interview show, “Autograph.” Producer Jefferson Richard is a true pioneer of the independent film movement and has produced some 40 films, starting in 1974, including “3,000 Miles to Graceland” and “Get Carter,” (line producer). Cinematographer Emmanuel Vouniozos has also filmed “Order of Redemption” and “The Bridge.” Composer Igor Nikolaev, who composed the original theme, is a legendary pop star in Russia, with a classical music education. Pinar Toprak, who worked with Nikolaev to score the music for a 75-piece orchestra, is a protégée of the great Hans Zimmer. One of the writers was Larry Gross, whose credits include “48 Hours,” “Another 48 Hours,” “We Don’t Live Here Anymore” and “Prozac Nation.”
About the cast… Rade Serbedzija is a true veteran of the screen, with more than 100 films in his resume. He is equally at home in his native Croatia and in the States, where he gained international fame for his many supporting roles in Hollywood films of the 1990s. British-born Steven Brand is another one of those British actors who manages to slip into an American accent with easy familiarity. His work has been mainly in television, with such series as “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” and “Navy NCIS.” Agata Gotova is a star in her native Russia, ironically because of her television show interviewing Hollywood stars. But she first made her name as a child singer and dancer in the USSR’s version of the Mickey Mouse Club. Faye Dunaway is a Hollywood icon, still working hard after more than 40 years. She came to fame starring opposite Warren Beatty in “Bonnie and Clyde.”
Celentano, who began his career as an actor, is fast becoming one of the freshest new directors in Hollywood. He has effectively combined comedy, drama and action with his own personalized style.
At the age of 21 he moved to New York, where he became a student of the legendary Stella Adler and later becoming a student of Sanford Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse. Under the name of Jeff Weston he guest-starred on numerous television shows, from “Magnum P.I.” to “Dynasty” and in 20 feature films, including “The New Age,” directed by Academy Award-wining writer Michael Tolken. He was also cast in Robert Altman’s “The Player.”
Fascinated by the behind-the-scenes aspects of filmmaking, and encouraged by Robert Altman, he started out in the theater, co-directing and producing the South African play “Soweto’s Burning.” The production was critically acclaimed and ran for five weeks at the Hudson Backstage.
Jeff made his writing and directing debut with the short film “Dickwad,” a fast-paced farce about a man’s bizarre journey home from work on his only day off in 17 years. The short garnered the Gold Prize for Best Original Comedy at the Houston Film Festival and Best Comedy Short at the Philadelphia International Film Festival.
The strong buzz led to Celentano’s signing with ICM and funding to form his own production company, “Periscope Pictures.”
His first feature under the Periscope banner, which he also co-wrote, was “Under the Hula Moon,” a romantic comedy which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 1995. It was a hit at the Hamburg Film Festival and had a U.S. nationwide theatrical release.
Jeff’s next project was the drama “Gunshy,” starring William Peterson and Diane Lane. His determination, passion and attention to detail paid off with the prestigious Best Director Award at the Atlantic City International Film Festival.
Shortly after filming “Say It In Russian” he shot another film in Russia—“Order of Redemption,” starring Academy Award nominee Tom Berenger, Armande Assante and Busta Rhymes. He ended up working on the editing of both films simultaneously.
Jeff is also Drama Director at the Performer’s Academy in Orange County, California. He is the husband of Musetta Vander, who stars in “Say It In Russian.”
Ken Eade is a lawyer by profession, a filmmaker by passion. He studied law at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles, where he has spent most of his life. For the past 10 years he has been involved in securities work, in compliance with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
He formed Imperia Entertainment to produce a show titled “Faces and Names”. The show covered Hollywood events, interviewing celebrities on the red carpet. That progressed to a sit-down interview series in English titled “Autograph.”
“Say It In Russian” began as a story he wrote, based in part on life experiences, then turned it over to director Jeff Celentano to write. “It turned into a love story thriller. There were a couple of things reminiscent of the original story—but not much.”
When they first started filming in Russia it was an unpleasant experience, even though Moscow is Eade’s favorite city, next to Paris. There were difficulties with the crew and with bureaucrats. But when they went back later to shoot with a different crew and staff it was much more pleasant.
The new local producer, Anatoly Davydov, was involved in everything, including being a double for two of the actors. They filmed for three days at ten per cent of the cost of shooting four days during their earlier stay. He also played the movie’s villain with scary realism.
“He even scared me,” says Eade.
Veteran producer Jefferson Richard is a true pioneer of the independent film movement. He started his professional career in the sixties when he was a folk/blues singer and musician performing in well-known coffee houses in Boston and New York’s Greenwich Village. After he had graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Art he joined the nationally known repertory company, the Inspiration Players of Santa Monica. He directed theatre in Los Angeles and worked in any kind of job he could get on low budget movies.
His first production job was as a first assistant director on the Matt Cimber film “The Black Six,” and he continued to work with the producer/director for14 years, progressing from production manager, line producer, 2nd unit director and eventually producer. While working on Cimber’s film “Butterfly” Richard met and worked with Orson Welles.
Jeff worked in various production capacities on such classic TV shows as “The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams,” “The Time Machine” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” In the eighties he was one of the most sought-after line producers for independent films in Los Angeles, co-producing such films as “One Man Force,” “Maniac Cop” and “Mario Puzo’s A Time to Die.” He also directed two features—the family film “In Search of a Golden Sky” and the campy horror cult classic “Beserker,” which he also wrote.
The nineties brought success with his own productions, as well as with producing action sequences for such films as “In Too Deep,” “Get Carter” and “3000 Miles to Graceland. He worked with James Glickenhaus on several films, including “Slaughter of the Innocence” and “Timemaster.” He line-produced two international television series, “Acapulco H.E.A.T.” and “Conan, the Adventurer” in Mexico, where he has also co-produced two features.
Recent assignments include “Daddy Day Camp,” “National Lampoon’s Bag Boy” and “I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer.”
Rade’s 40-year movie career has taken him to all parts of the globe and he is equally at home in his native Croatia, elsewhere in Europe and in the United States. He graduated from the Academy of Dramatic Arts in Zagreb and, while still a student, played leading roles in films and theater productions. He is remembered as an outstanding Peer Gynt, Don Juan, Oedipus, Hamlet and Richard III.
He has written and published four books of poetry, released four albums and directed 12 plays. He has appeared in well over 100 movies and television shows in many different languages. Together with Vanessa Redgrave he founded a theater that produced such plays as “Brecht in Exile,” “Liberation of Skopje,” “Smoke” and “Opera Sarajevo.”
After playing the lead in the highly successful “Before the Rain” he was cast in films directed by such luminaries as Phillip Noyce, John Woo, Franco Rossi and Stanley Kubrick in such movies as “Eyes Wide Shut,” “Polish Wedding,” “Stigmata” “ “Mighty Joe Young,” “Mission Impossible II,” “Space Cowboys” and “Snatch.” He has starred alongside Val Kilmer, Elisabeth Shue, John Turturro, Tom Cruise and Glenn Close.
He has participated in many charity and peace initiatives.
Although native to Dundee, Scotland, Steven lived in East Africa when he was young, spending nine years in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. He saw his first film at a drive-in cinema in Kenya.
In 2002, having worked extensively in theater, film and television in the U.K., he was brought over to the U.S. to star in Universal’s “The Scorpion King.” Following the success of that American debut, his work has included the HBO series “The Mind of the Married Man,” “Stephen King’s “Diary of Ellen Rimbauer,” and, more recently the movie “Treasure Raiders” with David Carradine.
Brand’s first work was starring opposite Catherine Zeta Jones in the enormously popular British TV series “The Darling Buds of May.” Following that he worked consistently in British theater and television.
He has appeared on U.S. television series, such as “Navy NCIS,” and “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.”
Agata started her career early, in the Soviet Union’s version of a Mickey Mouse Club—a singing and dancing show performed by children. She spent her childhood touring Europe, performing as part of the children’s dance troupe Kalinka and headlined the troupe’s 1989 film.
As a teenager she joined the theater, then moved to France where she attended Sorbonne University.
“I jumped on a plane and went to Paris. I had no papers. I didn’t speak French. I simply created an opportunity for myself. It was the same when I came to California for the first time. I crossed at the Mexican border without papers and I did not speak English”.
In Los Angeles she hosted a pilot for Russian television titled “Faces and Names,” in which she did red carpet interviews with stars. She went on to do 20 shows in the series. This led to the award-winning “Autograph,” a 30 episode series in which she held sit-down interviews with such celebrities as Janet Leigh, Laura Linney, Robert Duvall, Martin Landau, David Carradine and Michael York.
The darkest moment during filming came appropriately at 3:00 a.m. on a freezing winter morning outside Moscow. Wearing a thin dress she was picked up and carried by Steven Brand towards a mansion. But he dropped her on a hard layer of snow and fell on top of her.
“Everybody came running to me, very concerned. I was in great pain, but I didn’t want the children there to see it. So I just said, ‘okay, I’m on the beach at Monaco. This is not snow. It’s sand.’”
(Jacqueline De Rossy)
Faye Dunaway is an icon of the American movie industry, who first burst on to the scene in Arthur Penn’s 1967 “Bonnie and Clyde,” playing Bonnie opposite Warren Beatty’s Clyde.
She became one of the hottest actresses of the late sixties and seventies, playing neurotic, highly driven women with sex appeal, with roles in such films as “The Thomas Crown Affair” with Steve McQueen in 1968 (and again in the 1999 remake of the film), “Little Big Man” with Dustin Hoffman, and in “Chinatown” with Jack Nicholson. She also starred opposite George C. Scott in Stanley Kramer’s “Oklahoma Crude.”
Perhaps her most notorious role was her portrayal of Joan Crawford in “Mommie Dearest, in which she famously beat her daughter with a wire coat hanger.
Other major films of that era were “The Three Musketeers,” “The Towering Inferno,” “Three Days of the Condor,” “Network,” “Voyage of the Damned” and “The Champ.”
More recently she has starred in “The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc” and “The Yellow Bird,” which she also wrote, produced and directed.
She called her 1995 autobiography “Looking for Gatsby: My Life.” The title came to her because she had auditioned for the role of Daisy in “The Great Gatsby” that went to Mia Farrow.
Say it in Russian
Winner, Silver Medal for Feature Films, New York Festivals
Winner, Best in Show (Feature), Indie Fest, San Diego
Winner, Award of Excellence in Cinematography and Music, Indie Fest
Winner, Award of Merit, Best Supporting Actor, Rade Sherbedgia, Indie Fest
Winner, Gold Palm Award for Best Feature Film, Honolulu international Film Festival
Winner, Best Actress-Agata Gotova, Honolulu International Film Festival
Winner, Best Big Budget Film, Myrtle Beach International Film Festival
Official Selection: 2008 Other Venice Film Festival, 2008 Geneva Film Festival,
2009 Omaha Film Festival