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Babylon 5’s Straczynski Directing WWII Drama The Flickering Light

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Changeling

Say what you will about geeks, but we’re a loyal crowd. When we fall in love with the worlds and characters of somebody like Joss Whedon, we’ll follow them wherever they go from there. And while he hasn’t soared into the same stratosphere as Whedon just yet, another genre talent I’ve been following for decades is Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski. While many of his projects after B5 failed to connect, he’s achieved new levels of success in recent years, after Changeling, based on his original screenplay, earned several Oscar nominations. Now he’s tackling a new obstacle: he’ll be making his feature-film directorial debut with a World War II drama called The Flickering Light.

Variety reports that Straczynski will be directing from his own original screenplay, based on real events, which centers on a World War II concentration camp that exclusively imprisoned Gypsies. That’s a corner of World War II history that hasn’t been explored much on-screen, but The Flickering Light ventures into even more surreal territory. During the filming of Nazi propagandist Leni Riefenstahl’s 1942 film Tiefland, the prisoners were pressed into service as actors. JMS tells Variety:

During the day, the prisoners were escorted to the studio by armed guard and corralled onto movie sets. They were cleaned up by the largely sympathetic Aryan crew, feasted on food unimaginable to prisoners, then dressed in period Spanish wardrobe as Riefenstahl required ‘authenticity’ on camera. Then after filming each day, returned, once more in rags, to the horror of the camp.

Straczynski has been working in features quite a bit in recent years, having written on movies such as Thor and Underworld: Awakening. He’s also been attached to several high-profile science fiction films, including a surprisingly good Forbidden Planet prequel script, and an adaptation of E.E. “Doc” Smith’s Lensman movies. Sadly, both seem to be lingering in development hell at the moment.

He’s returning to TV, with a pandemic thriller in the works, as well as a science fiction project with Cloud Atlas’ Andy and Lana Wachowski.

The Flickering Light will begin filming in November 2013.

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