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Depardieu to star in history film penned by Uzbek dictator daughter

AFP-JIJI

French actor Gerard Depardieu has agreed to star in a historic serial penned by the eldest daughter of Uzbekistan’s strongman, President Islam Karimov, a screenwriter said.

Gulnara Karimova wrote a screenplay for the eight-episode television film “The Theft of the White Cocoon,” a story about the origin of the famed Central Asian silk and set in the fifth to sixth centuries in Central Asia.

Depardieu traveled to Uzbekistan, a secretive, largely Muslim but secular state with a population of around 30 million, last week, said Akbar Khakimov, who cowrote the script.

“Depardieu visited the ancient Silk Road town of Bukhara on Tuesday and today he held meetings with Uzbek filmmakers to review and discuss his role in the serial,” said Khakimov.

Depardieu will play the role of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian, the film’s producers said. They said Depardieu is particularly interested in the Silk Road, and during his trip to Uzbekistan visited Tashkent and the historic cities of Bukhara and Samarkand. “There was the Great Silk Road and it is still there,” Depardieu said through a translator.

“I think this is a great idea to re-create the ancient times and understand the secret of creating silk. For me, the story and the project itself is very interesting, and I will take part in it with pleasure,” Depardieu said.

Harvard-educated Karimova, 40, has become a public face of the ex-Soviet country, serving as its permanent representative in the United Nations and as its ambassador in Spain until last year. She also runs jewelry, cosmetics and clothing lines under her Guli label. But it is as a pop star under the name of GooGoosha that she has attracted the most attention.

Her father has ruled Uzbekistan since before the fall of the Soviet Union. He has been accused of shooting hundreds of unarmed protesters and boiling people alive, and has come under fire from the West over the rights situation in the country.