Russia's Kantemir Balagov to direct 'Last of Us' pilot

Russia's Kantemir Balagov to direct 'Last of Us' pilot

HBO has announced that Russian filmmaker Kantemir Balagov will be sitting in the director's chair for the pilot episode of The Last of Us.

Craig Mazin, the creator of HBO’s acclaimed limited series Chernobyl, is writing and executive producing with Neil Druckmann, the writer and creative director of the game, The Hollywood Reporter reported.

Last of Us is set 20 years after modern civilization has been destroyed and centers on the relationship between Joel, a smuggler in this new world, and Ellie, a teenager who may be key to a cure for a deadly pandemic. Joel, a hardened survivor, is hired to smuggle the 14-year-old girl out of an oppressive quarantine zone. What starts as a small job soon becomes a brutal, heartbreaking journey as they traverse the U.S. and depend on each other for survival.

The series is a co-production with Sony Pictures Television. PlayStation Productions, Word Games, The Mighty Mint, and Naughty Dog produce. Also executive producing are Carolyn Strauss, Naughty Dog’s Evan Wells, and Asad Qizilbash and Carter Swan of PlayStation Productions.

Balagov, who is of Circassian origin, is best known for directing the somber Russian-language dramas Closeness and Beanpole. Closeness, about a poor families in a small town dealing with a kidnapping, was well-received when it debuted at the Cannes Film Festival in 2017, resulting in Balagov winning the festival’s FIPRESCI Prize in the Un Certain Regard competition.

Beanpole won Balagov the Un Certain Regard award for best director and his second FIPRESCI Prize. The film was also selected as Russia’s submission in the best international feature film category for the 2020 Academy Awards.

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