Berlin-basedEgoli Tossell Film (ETF) isexpanding into higher-budget English-language productions with a slateincluding new projects by Agnieszka Holland andMichael Hofmann.

Shootingis scheduled to begin by the end of the year on Holland's Peter & Catherine from a screenplay by IrakliKvirikadze about the love story between Peter the Greatand a Polish battlefield whore who becomes Tsarina Catherine I. Chloe Sevigny is attached to play Catherine, but the producersare 'still looking for a bankable name' to cast for Peter, accordingto ETF's co-managing director Jens Meurer, who had been a co-producer last year with the UK's Crossday Productions and BBC Films on Michael Caton-Jones' ShootingDogs.

$13.8m(Euros 11m) of the film's $16.6m (Euros 13.2m) budget is already in placethrough the German regional funds MDM and MedienboardBerlin-Brandenburg, a state guarantee from the Land of Brandenburg, and adistributor guarantee, while UK co-producer Zephyr Films is on board withbacking from Ingenious.

'Weare thinking of shooting to a large degree in Russia but this is notnecessarily contingent on finance from Russia,' Meurer explains. 'We would want to shoot the palacesbuilt by Peter and Catherine near St Petersburg, which are controlledby the Hermitage, a good partner we know from working together on Russian Ark.'

ZephyrFilms will also be a production partner on ETF'ssecond Russian-set project, the $18.9m (Euros 15m) The Last Station by US director MichaelHoffman (A Midsummer Night's Dream)which has Anthony Hopkins. Meryl Streepand Paul Giamatti attached as leads. The drama ofCount Leo Tolstoy caught between the love of his life Sofyaand a deceptive disciple Chertkov trying to claim hislife's work is due to begin shooting at locations in Russia in February 2007.The film's financing will be aiming to attract German regional fund, a stateguarantee, Ingenious and BBC Films as key partners.

Beforethis, Mostly Martha director Sandra Nettelbeck will begin principal photography on her new,English-language hard-hitting drama Helento be shot at locations in the US this autumn as aco-production with Echo Lake Productions.

Inaddition, ETF has acquired the rights to two of Francois Lelord'sinternationally bestselling Hector novels, Hector's Journey or The Search for Happiness and Hector and the Secrets of Love, to develop a film franchise for theinternational market.

Budgetedat $13.4m and with its development supported by the GFP media fund and the EU's MEDIA Programme, the first Hector film will follow theyoung psychiatrist hero setting off on a trip around the world to find out howhappiness really works when he fails to make his patients happy.

Apartfrom these English-language projects, ETF is now developing an ambitious $10m (Euros8m) German-language biopic Hildegard Knef - The Gift Horse, based on the life of the lateGerman diva, slated for shooting in 2007. Working with a script by Sophie Scholl writer Fred Breinersdorfer, the internationally famousactress-singer-writer will be played by German actress Heike Makatsch who has worked with ETF previously on Almost Heaven and Twisted Sister.

'It is one of those rare moments when everyone callsus, be it broadcasters or funders and so on,' Meurer reports. 'Since we announced the project, it is afilm everyone wants to be in.'