Theo Angelopoulos starts shooting today in the northern Russian city of Nizni Novgorod his new film, The Dust of Time, the second part of the trilogy undertaken three years ago with The Weeping Meadow.

The impressive international cast includes Irene Jacob taking the role as Eleni, played in The Weeping Meadow by newcomer Alexandra Aidini. Valeria Golino was originally earmarked for the role but had to drop out of the project because of other commitments and the delayed start of the Angelopoulos shoot.

Willem Dafoe will also work with Angelopoulos for the first time, taking one of the two lead male parts, alongside Bruno Ganz. Harvey Keitel also stars.

The project marks the Greek master's first film to shoot in English.

The trilogy follows a couple through the historic events of last century up to our days. Recurrent Angelopoulos themes to be also found in this film include wandering and returning home as well as a film inside a film.

The four-month shoot will span seven countries: Russia, Kazakhstan, Canada, the US, Germany, Italy and Greece. Depending on post-production times, the project could be readied for Cannes.

Angelopoulos produces and directs from his own script. Co-producing partners in the $12.3m (Euros 8.3m) project include Claudia Popsel's Licht Meer of Germany, Studio 217 of Russia plus such long time co-producers as Amedeo Pagani's Classic Films of Italy and Erik Hyman's Paradis Films of France.

Eurimages contributed $960,526 (Euros 650,000) while local co-production partners include the Greek Film Centre, Public TV ERT, private NOVA TV, and Odeon. Athens-based Graal will be in charge of digital effects.

Additional backing has been supplied by a score of local and foreign institutions, among them, the Greek, Russian and Italian ministries of Culture.

The director leans on some of his usual crew, including composer Eleni Karaindrou, DoP Andreas Sinanos and set designer Giorgos Ziakas. Joining foreign crew members include Italian set designer Andrea Crisanti and costume designer Livia Sartori.