Night Witches, a new $5m Russian-UK co-production, is set to begin shooting in Russia in autumn, it was announced at the Moscow International Film Festival.

Actor Alexander Siddig, best known as Dr Bashir from TV's Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, will make his feature directorial debut with the film which is based on a true story about Russian female fighter pilots in WWII. The women took on the Luftwaffe in the skies over Leningrad and were feared for their daring night raids that helped defeat the German forces. Malcolm McDowell will star as a US military instructor sent to train a special squadron of bombardiers.

The film will be produced by UK-based Poseidon Films and in Russia by Soyuz Kino Service (SKS) with Frixos Constantine as executive producer.