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This is not actor James D'Arcy's first encounter with writing and directing a film. He had that experience a few years ago with an oddball comic short titled "Chicken/Egg," which starred Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, then in his sixth season as Jamie Lannister on "Game of Thrones" (the short is currently available on YouTube). D'Arcy, making his name as a quiet, but dashing screen presence since the late-1990s, had been writing feature scripts for years, and came close to directing one of them, but "Made in Italy" was the first to have all of its pieces fall into place.

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The Red Army hockey team has quite a history behind it, one that can be easily summed up: Before the fall of the Soviet Union, at the tail end of 1991, they were universally known as the best hockey team in the world. Not long after the new Russian state was established, they fell out of favor. Among the reasons were that the government stopped funding them, and some of the best players defected to the National Hockey League.