by Dave McNary

High-profile photographer Jeff Vespa is making his directorial debut in Moviq’s historical drama “Amre,” starring Sanjar Madi, Abbie Cornish and Ben Aldridge.

Producers are Cary Granat, Alidar Utemuratov, and Ed Jones. “Amre” is filming through Sept. 1 in Riga, Latvia, and Almaty, Kazakhstan, with Vespa directing from a script by Benjamin A. van der Veen.

The story, based on a true story, is set in 1925 in Soviet-ruled Kazakhstan and Paris. Filming is set to be completed on Sept. 1.

Madi plays a small-town Kazakh singer who journeys to Paris to compete in an international singing competition at the Expo. He meets American songwriter George Gershwin (played by  Aldridge), forming a beautiful and unlikely friendship. While Amre’s talent for singing opens up an exciting new world outside Kazakhstan, he is forced to choose between following his singing career and remaining loyal to his home country.

“Jeff Vespa is making an impressive introduction to the film world with Amre, proving to be a brilliant director of incredible vision, skill, and intuition,” Granat said.

Cornish’s credits include “Bright Star,” “Limitless,” and “Sucker Punch. Aldridge starred in “Reign,” “Our Girl,” and “The Railway Man.”

Vespa is the CEO and founder of digital magazine Verge and one of the co-founders of the WireImage photo agency. He was previously the editor-at-large for Life.com and West Coast special projects editor of Los Angeles Confidential Magazine.

Vespa published his first coffee table book, “The Art of Discovery,” in 2014.

He produced the documentary “$ellebrity,” which focuses on the history of publicity, gossip and paparazzi in Hollywood. Prior to WireImage, Vespa worked in the film business at New Line Cinema and at Warner Bros. in international distribution.

Original Article Link: http://variety.com/2016/film/news/jeff-vespa-directing-debut-drama-amre-1201844967/