America we get all worked up about a school shooting that kills a kid or two. Compare that to the terrifying ordeal and death toll of the hostage crisis in a Russian school in September of 2004 – Muslim Chechen terrorists took over a school in the Russian town of Beslan, holding hostage 1200 children and adults. The stand-off lasted three days until Russian security forces attacked. In the ensuing melee 344 civilians died – 186 were children. 90% of the hostages were wounded. Almost all of the terrorists – who were doped up on heroin to make them impervious to pain – were killed. It’s an unbelievable story of terror and error, and it’s about to become a movie simply called The School.

The director will be Oliver Hirschbiegel, who directed the excellent German film Das Experiment and the upcoming Warner Bros movie Invasion*. The script is being written by City of God writer Braulio Mantovani – this is truly a global effort of excellence. Universal and Imagine Entertainment are producing.

Hirschbiegel is planning no going on a realistic – dare I say “neo-factualist!” – route, filming everything in Russian and casting mostly unknown Russian actors. Kudos to Universal – between this and United 93 they’re showing that they aren’t afraid of making tough movies about tough themes that don’t pander to an American audience.

For more on the harrowing events of the three days of the crisis, read this in-depth Wikipedia article.

*Aka the movie where Nicole Kidman had the car accident last week.