Logline: Never before seen on film, two of history’s most extraordinary leaders—one born of revolution, the other of privilege—give a gripping first-hand account of how they led the world back from the brink of nuclear Armageddon by finding the courage to change.
Story Synopsis: Nikita Khrushchev first set foot on foreign soil in 1939, when the red army invaded western Ukraine, then a part of Poland. There he oversaw the mass deportations, arrests, and mock elections that insured the conquered territory “voluntarily” joined the Soviet Union. That same year, Jack Kennedy joined his father on a visit to the King of England, where he took tea with a 12 -year-old princess Elizabeth before flying off to Rome to watch the Pope give communion to his little brother.
Written, directed and edited by Emmy winning and five-time Oscar nominated Michael Chandler, Jack and Nikita – My Adversary My Partner uncovers the story of two unlikely characters divided by class, age, and ideology – one the son of a miner, the other the son of a millionaire – who led their countries out of the straitjacket of Cold War thinking towards a new way of living in peace. Yet at every turn they undermined their own sincere efforts through self-made crises, miscalculations, and outright blunders, avoiding nuclear war only after taking every step to unleash it.
There’s an old saying that diplomacy is the art of keeping your enemy talking until your archers are in range. Both Kennedy & Khrushchev were not afraid of using deception, flattery and humor in a diplomatic dance where each tried to gain the upper hand. To cut through the institutional thicket separating them, they relied on secret back channels and a correspondence they kept hidden from others. It was a relationship complete with lies, betrayal and reconciliation, with all the intrigue of a spy novel.
But until now, that human aspect has languished in dusty archives, leaving questions that only the men themselves could answer: Why did their only face-to-face meeting go so tragically wrong? How did their relationship serve them during the tensest moments of crisis? What were they really saying behind each other’s backs?
Using responsibly generated AI voices, together with animation and secret White House tapes, this political thriller captures the missing intimacy of those crisis years with an immediacy and accuracy that second-hand accounts cannot match. There is no substitute for witnessing the tragicomic moment when Khrushchev interrupts his war-planning against Kennedy to decide on the proper gifts to send him. Or for watching a stunned Kennedy sit in silence as a four-star U.S. General hurls personal insults at his Commander-in-Chief. The audience is an eyewitness to history as it happens, sitting at the elbow of the people who made it. We also use this history as a lens through which to see our present time, where the dormant seeds of Khrushchev’s nuclear brinksmanship and insecurities sprout anew in Putin’s Russia.
Despite their differences, Kennedy and Khrushchev did have one thing in common: an abhorrence of war. Both had seen the horrors of the battlefield, both had lost loved ones to combat. Nikita lost his son, Leonid, and Kennedy lost his brother, Joe. Both feared the danger of war in the nuclear age. In the end, that shared bond would prove to be enough. As Khrushchev recalled, “John Kennedy and I met man to man. He was both my partner and my adversary.”