Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin stepped in to help director Alexander Sokurov finance his critically-acclaimed Faust.
The Russian project, based on Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's play about a scholar who sells his soul to the devil, won over the jury at the Venice Film Festival in Italy and earned Sokurov the prestigious Golden Lion prize on Saturday (10Sep11), but the director admits Faust would never have been made if Putin had not offered his assistance following the global economic crisis of 2009.
The pair met to discuss the plans for the movie and Sokurov was shocked to receive an offer of $10.9 million (£6.8 million) from officials at the Fund for the Support of the Development of Mass Media just a month after their chat.
The filmmaker tells Afp, "The film would not have seen the light if Putin had not found the funding.
"I was astonished and never understood why Putin, who has never been a friend of mine, decided to support the film... (He) expressed only one wish: that the feature film, shot in German, should be a Russian production."