Therecent economic boom in Russia has made it easier to finance films - bothprivately and from government funds. Dozens of young new directors are expectedto complete new films by the end of the year with the Russian Ministry ofCulture giving priority to funding debut projects.

Butveteran directors in Russia and Poland are also hard at work. In St Petersburg Alexander Sokurov beganshooting the third and final film in his series about men of power this month. The production of Hirohito will occupy two of Lenfilm's sound stages for most of thesummer before moving on to complete shooting in Japan.

Thefilm will be made in both English and Japanese and will star an as yetunannounced Japanese actor. Most of thecast will be either American or Japanese, a challenge for Sokurov who speakslittle English and no Japanese. The twoprevious films in the series about Hitler and Lenin starred Russian actorLeonid Bronei.

Oneof Russia's top production outfits Sergei Selyanov's STV Films is inpre-production on an epic about the life of Genghis Khan to be directed bySergei Bodrov while director Alexander Rogozhkin, Russia's master of comedytries his hand at a WWII drama with Span.

Polish-Russianco-productions have been rare in recent years, but two of the oldest and mostprestigious production outfits, Tor Studios in Warsaw and Three T in Moscow,have teamed up for Persona Non Grata. The film, scripted and directed by KrzysztofZanussi, will star director and actor Nikita Mikhalkov together with Polish stars ZbigniewZapasiewicz and Dnaiel Olbrychski.

Setto start shooting in Moscow in September, the Euros 1.4m production will shootfor eight weeks before moving to Poland for the second half of the shoot. There will also be several days of shootingin Uruguay as the lead character is Stefan, Polish ambassador to Uruguay whoreturns to Poland where he meets his friend of 20 years earlier Oleg who was ayoung Soviet diplomat in Poland. Tor expects one more co-producer to board theproject before shooting begins.

Thebusy Mikhalkov is also co-starring opposite Oleg Menshikov in another filmshooting this summer, The State Advisor,based on a book by Russia's most popular detective fiction writer Boris Akuninand directed by Filip Ynakovsky is expected to be a blockbuster at the Russianbox office this autumn. Another filmexpected to take the box office by storm is Bimmer-2directed by Piotr Buslov the much-anticipated sequel to his hit cult dramaabout Russian youth.

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