Two baby tigers made their screen debuts this week as French director Jean-Jacques Annaud started shooting his feature film “Two Brothers” in Siem Reap.
The first week of production, which began on Monday, is taking place on the outskirts of Angkor with two 4-month-old tigers, said unit publicist Amanda Brand.
During the first days of shooting, the two cubs performed like pros, and acted exactly as they were directed to do so, she said.
But the prize goes to the tiger who plays the role of their mother in the film, which did her scene in one, perfect take, Brand said.
Based on a story written by Annaud, “Two Brothers” follows the adventures of two tigers born among Angkor’s temples in the 1920s. After being separated as cubs and going through hardship—one in a circus, the other in a family—they escape together, go on a rampage and find their way to their childhood home at Angkor.
Earlier this month, 23 tigers were flown in from France, accompanied by two French and one US trainer to care for them, Brand said.
The tigers have adapted very well to the change of climate, she said.
For the time being, no one is allowed on the set. “Working with animals is always more complicated, Brand said. “You have to concentrate and be very quiet [on the set] not to distract them.”
So far, she said, “It has been a lot better than expected. The tigers have behaved very well, and have done exactly what we were telling them to do.”
In the coming months, the film crew will shoot at various locations in Cambodia, as well as in Thailand and Paris.
There are about 100 foreigners on the production, plus 350 Cambodians hired locally and working in every department, from construction to the catering and art departments.
Annaud won an Academy Award for his first film, “Black and White in Color,” in 1976, and numerous other awards during the following two decades.
His 1988 film “The Bear” received international acclaim.
With a budget in the range of $30 million, “Two Brothers” is a co-production between Pathe-Renn Productions and Two Brothers Productions. Annaud and Jake Eberts, who produced “Dances with Wolves,” “Driving Miss Daisy” and “A River Runs Through It, ” are the producers.
It is scheduled for release in 2004.