Synopsis:Communist Bulgaria, 1968. Happy in love with his young bride Emilye, Andrei Kolev is disdainful of his country’s regime. His older brother Sava, by contrast, is working up the ranks of the secret service, impressing even the President with his initiative. But when both brothers are called upon to help Moscow crush the democratic revolution in Czechoslovakia, their lives will change forever. Interfering with the brutality of a fellow soldier, Andrei earns the swift punishment of life in the uranium mines. Thanks to his brother’s rash action, Sava now finds his patriotism deeply under suspicion – and as Sava well knows, suspicion within the intelligence apparatus can mean death. Fearing his own end at the hands of the petty and cruel Communist regime, Sava has a sudden change of heart. But failing to spring Andrei from prison, Sava panics and escapes to the West. Neither brother imagines they will ever meet again.
Ten years later.
By 1978, the Bulgarian government must do all they can to quiet Sava and other outspoken dissidents pounding the regime with criticism from beyond the Iron Curtain. The “Bulgarian umbrella” has taken the life of a dear friend of Sava’s, and the net may be closing around him. Living in San Francisco as a journalist, Sava takes the fight back to the Bulgarians by humiliating the regime via the airwaves. For the Bulgarians, the need to silence Sava has never been greater - yet the opportunity to do so has grown ever more difficult as Sava hires a security team.
In their desperation, the Bulgarians pluck Andrei from the uranium mines and force him to do their bidding. Unlike other agents, once they “motivate” Andrei to kill, he can get close to Sava and assassinate him. Using Emilye as collateral, the Bulgarians prepare Andrei through a brutal program of incentive, blackmail and torture, then smuggle him to America.
Will Andrei be up for the task, delivering the ultimate revenge upon his brother that – to his mind – is deserved? In the vein of “The Lives of Others” and “Marathon Man”, Desertion is a tense thriller set in the Cold War environment that not only places a critical eye on the atrocities of the East, but also on the propaganda-like streak in Western media. In the crushing of an innocent soul, Desertion examines the strength of true love, as well as the bond of brotherhood that may not stand the test of time.
CREATIVE NOTES - To further "tie the room together," the next draft will expand on the Jonestown story in the script, presenting a dramatized version of it in 5-15 pages. This will draw a morbid irony to the fact that hundreds of idealistic, hopeful Americans are dreaming of a Communist lifestyle, at the same time our protagonists are so desperately fighting to escape one. It will also further highlight the power of information - what it can inspire people to do, and how it can be manipulated by those who control it - whether totalitarian governments, "cult" leaders or Western media outlets - with deadly consequences.