Speaking at the Odessa Film Festival the producer of Sergey Mokritsky’s war drama Unbroken said that the project had now completed principal photography.

20th Century Fox and Universal are among the US majors ¨in talks¨ to take on worldwide distribution for Sergey Mokritsky’s € 3.7m biopic/war drama Unbroken.

Speaking at this week’s Works in Progress showcase at the Odessa Film Industry Office, producer Egor Olesov of Kiev-based Kinorob said that the Ukrainian-Russian co-production - which had previously previously gone under the working title of The Battle Of Sevastopol - completed principal photography in Kiev on last Tuesday (July 15).

Expected to be a blockbuster success in Ukraine, the film recounts the story of student Lyudmila Pavilchenko who was a legendary sniper during the Second World War with 309 shots to her credit and later became friends with the First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

In an interview with Russia’s RIA-Novosti , producer Natalia Mokritskaya said that the film, which has been shot in 3D, will have a wide release next April to coincide with the celebrations for the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. There are also plans for a four-part TV mini-series from the film’s footage.

She said that the production with state-of-the art-visual effects had worked well ¨in spite of the very complicated economic and political situation. I believe we are making an honest picture which is worthy of our veterans’ memory.¨

Yulia Peresild, who appeared in Alexey Uchitel’s The Edge, plays Pavlichenko, with UK actress Joan Blackham (Bridget Jones) as Eleanor Roosevelt and other parts taken by Sergey Puskepalis, Vitaly Linetsky, Evgeniy Tsyganov and Nikita Tarasov.

Another Second World War drama, Russian actor-producer-director Fyodor Bondarchuk’s Stalingrad 3D, was released internationally last year by Sony Pictures Releasing, and Bondarchuk revealed last month in Moscow that he was in negotiations with US majors to pick up Battalion of Death about the true story of women serving during the First World War.

Record number of entries

Speaking at the beginning of the Works in Progress showcase, Odessa International Film Festival (OIFF) president Viktoria Tigipko said that there had been a record 130 submissions for this third edition, which were then whittled down to the 10 projects presented on Wednesday morning.

This year’s line-up included Taras Tkachenko’s immigrant drama The Nest Of The Turtledove which has already been shooting in the Carpathian Mountains in Ukraine and will continue shooting in Italy’s Genua this autumn.

UK-based sales agent Amadeus Entertainment has come onboard to handle international distribution  after representing a previous production by Volodymyr Fillipov’s InsightMedia Producing Centre, the boxer biopic Strong Ivan.

As some of the projects’ producers explained during the presentation, production had been halted or delayed because of the current crisis in Ukraine or because part of the financing had fallen through.

In addition, Ukrainian director Ivan Orlenko explained that his conceptual drama Red Dot about 13-year-old schoolboys would have to contend with Russia’s new anti-obscenity law which would make theatrical distribution in Russia unlikely. Moreover, funding had been cut in Russia because he is a Ukrainian citizen.

UK joins Mindadze project

Meanwhile, the UK’s Al Film Production has joined Alexander Mindadze’s new feature project Sweet Peter, Dear Hans which has begun shooting in a disused factory in the Ukrainian town of Nikopol.

The production by Mindadze’s own Russian-based company Passenger Film, Germany’s ma.ja.de film and Ukraine’s SotacinemaGroup is the second time that the partners have worked together in Ukraine after the Berlinale competition film Innocent Saturday. This is also the second film where Mindadze is collaborating with the Romanian DoP Oleg Mutu after the Chernobyl drama.

The film’s international cast include German actors Jakob Diehl, Birgit Minichmayr and Mark Waschke, Russia’s Andrius Daryala and Anna Skidonova  and Ukrainian actors Svetlana Kosolapova and Sebastian Anton.

Festival launches Sentsov petition

A packed fund-raising screening of Oleg Sentsov’s feature debut Gaamer in the  Rodina cinema on Tuesday evening saw the launch of an additional petition for signatures by festival guests to secure the release of the arrested film director from the Lefortovo prison in Russia.

In an appeal to the governments of Russia and Ukraine as well as such international bodies as the European Parliament, European Commission, the United Nations and the OSCE, the petition calls, among other things, on the Russian authorities to renounce any charges against Oleg Sentsov and his colleagues  Alexandr Kolchenko, Gennadi Afanasyev and Alexey Chirniy ¨because their actions are based only on their realization of human rights for freedom of speech and peaceful meetings¨.

The petition also asks for an application to made to the Human Rights Ombudsman of the European Council ¨with the request to visit the activists, who are in custody, and to investigate the circumstances of the illegal apprehension of the Ukrainian citizens.¨

 Culture Mnister attends Guide premiere

Ukraine’s Minister of Culture Yevhen Nyshchuk  promised to make every effort to find funding for the Ukrainian film industry after seeing the world premiere of Oles Sanin’s The Guide on Wednesday evening.

The UAH 16m production by Pronto Film will be distributed by B&H Film Distribution in Ukraine this autumn and will later be broadcast on television as a four-part series.

The Guide was shown as a ‘work in progress’ at Odessa’s Film Industry Office last year after Sanin worked seven years on developing the project.