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Studios Fight To Tell Story of Submarine

Published: February 2, 2001 (Issue # 641)



  • Nikolai Zateyev, captain of K-19
    Photo: For The St. Petersburg Times

For 30 years, the crew of the K-19 Soviet nuclear submarine were forced to keep silent on the tragic accident that crippled their vessel and led to the deaths of eight of them.

Now, Hollywood wants finally to tell their tale. But two competing studios are fighting over who has the rights to reveal what happened in the North Atlantic on July 4, 1961.

In the middle of last month, a group of former K-19 crew members composed a statement objecting fiercely to a script proposed by Kathryn Bigelow, ex-wife of director James Cameron and the producer of blockbusters such as "Point Break" and "The Weight of Water."

Bigelow announced plans for her film, entitled "K-19: The Widowmaker," in September last year. The film's cast includes Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson.

However, Inna Gotman, a Russian-born American producer and president of Drawbridge Film company, is claiming she had been preparing to make a similar movie since 1994, when she first met the captain of the K-19, Nikolai Zateyev, and allegedly signed a deal with him for the exclusive rights to his personal story.

Lev Slavin, Gotman's co-producer in St. Petersburg, said in an interview on Thursday that Gotman first met representatives from Bigelow's Intermedia films International at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival. Gotman, he said, was looking for financial backing from the wealthier Intermedia company, and hoped they might collaborate on the K-19 project.

However, such a deal was never struck. Instead, not long after the Kursk submarine disaster in August, Gotman heard about Bigelow's plans to pursue her own project, which she claimed to have thought of long before Gotman's approach.

Last December, Bigelow came to St. Petersburg with Ford and Neeson on a low-profile trip to meet the sub's crew and discuss details of the accident ahead of filming, which is due to start on Feb. 19, with film sites to include locations in Russia, Iceland, Canada and Norway. The visit was, by all accounts, a friendly one, crew and cast drinking together and toasting each other and the prospective film.

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Thursday, Nov. 27


The Customs and Transportation Committee for AmCham meets this morning at 9 a.m. in their office on Ulitsa Yakubovicha.


Tickets are still available for local KHL team SKA St. Petersburg’s showdown with Siberian club Metallurg Novokuznetsk tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Ice Palace outside the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. Tickets can be purchased on the team’s website, at the arena box office or in their merchandise store on Nevsky Prospekt.


Celebrate one of Russian literature’s most tragic figures during Blok Days, a two-day celebration of the 134th anniversary of the poet’s birthday. The tragic tenor’s work, which led to writer Maxim Gorky to hail him as Russia’s greatest living poet before his death in 1921, will be recited and meetings and discussions about his contributions to the Silver Age of literature in St. Petersburg will be discussed in the confines of his former residence.



Friday, Nov. 28


Join table game aficionados at the British Book Center’s Board Game Evening. Held every Friday at 5 p.m., aficionados and amateurs alike can come take part in a variety of different games that test one’s intellect and cunning.



Saturday, Nov. 29


Cats, dogs, birds, rodents and reptiles are just some of the things that will walk and crawl at Lenexpo convention center this weekend as part of Zooshow, a two-day exhibition featuring not only man’s best friends but a four-legged fashion show, as well as a food fair that will help pet owners find out more about which kibbles are best for their hungry pets.



Sunday, Nov. 30


Remember the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Russo-Finnish war in 1939 during today’s reenactment titled “Winter War: How it Was.” More than 200 people will take part in recreating the opening salvoes of the battle for the north in Kamenka, a small village situated between Vyborg and St. Petersburg, using authentic equipment and vintage vehicles from the era. The faux battle begins at 2 p.m.



Monday, Dec. 1


Serbia filmmaker Emir Kusturica is the featured guest this evening at the Lensovet Palace of Culture the Petrograd Side. Fans of the director will get the chance to watch his movie “Black Cat, White Cat,” as well as ask questions about his award-winning filmography. Tickets for the event, which starts at 7 p.m., start at 2,000 rubles ($42.50).



Tuesday, Dec. 2


Today is the final day of “Takoy Festival,” a three-week program of plays based on the works of Dostoevsky, Remarque and other famed European writers, whose work is transcribed for theatrical performances. Tonight’s festival finale is “Fathers and Sons,” a two-act drama staged by the Novosibirsk Academic Drama Theater based on Turgenev’s classic about familial relations.



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