Actor Gérard Depardieu is being considered for a Russian fantasy feature.

Actor Gérard Depardieu has come into the sights of Russian producer Yuri Kuznetsov-Taizhnov of Pervaya Kinostudia (First Film Studio) for children’s fantasy film Games Of Time. Exile by the newcomer Alexandr Olkov.

The project, which is budgeted at $2.6m (RUB90m) and reportedly has $1.5m (RUB50m) already in place, was presented by Kuznetsov-Taizhnov as one of 15 features looking for production support from the Ministry of Culture at its public pitching for children’s feature films.

The producer explained in the pitch that the film about a little girl from another world arriving unexpectedly in our reality is intended to be shot in IMAX 3D, although he reportedly admitted that the film’s budget could mean the makers would have to choose between either Depardieu or the big-screen format.

Games Of Time. Exile was one of five projects recommended by the Ministry’s expert committee to be forwarded to the commercially more oriented Cinema Fund (Fond Kino) for consideration.

They included by Roman Oleynikov’s Good Boy by ProFIT’s Igor Tolstunov and Vladimir Grammatikov’s Tsar-Dervish which already has Finland’s Kirsi Tykkilainen as a co-producer, according to Proficinema.

However, only four projects at this session were recommended for production subsidy from the Ministry of Culture -  ranging from Vyacheslav Zlatopolsky’s adventure film My Papa to the first-time film-makers sisters Darya and Ekaterina Nosik’s war drama Alyoshka which cites Andrey Tarkovsky’s Ivan’s Childhood as a reference and will be set in during the Second World War and the present day

Viy sequel underway

Pre-production began this week on the sequel to this year’s box-office hit Viy 3D, Viy - Journey To China, by the Russian Film Group with Chinese partners and a budget of $36m.

Oleg Stepchenko returns as director and the new film - based on three world legends - is set for release in 2016. 

Viy 3D was six years in the making with a $23m budget and featured UK actor Jason Flemyng in the cast. It was based on the short story by the 19th century Russian writer Nikolai Gogol and was released by Universal Pictures in Russia at the end of January.

The production by the Russian Film Group and Marins Group Entertainment  has so far taken over $35m (RUB1.2bn) at the Russian box office, with an additional $5.3m (RUB180m) posted in Ukraine and the Baltic States. Viy 3D’s opening week - at $17.8m (RUB608m) - was even stronger than Avatar ($17.6m/RUB601.9m) and Shrek Forever ($17.7m/RUB 604.4m).

According to the Russian Film Group, Viy 3D is set to be released in 62 territories, with a planned opening on 2,300 screens in the USA.

Focus on original stories for children’s films

¨The Special Children’s Film¨, Germany’s initiative to promote original screenplays for children’s films as a viable alternative to the flood of productions based on existing literary properties, has now selected two projects - Ente Gut! and Winnetous Sohn - to be considered for production support by the national and regional film funds as well as public television.

The screenwriters and producers of the two projects had received development support among six projects last year as part of the initiative’s two-stage model. The decision to grant production support was announced at this week’s Filmfest München.

In addition, the initiative’s organisers revealed another batch of projects to receive development funding for  2014/15: the successful applicants include screenwriter Ruth Toma’s Die Geister aus dem 3. Stock, to be produced by Fatih Akin’s own Hamburg-based production company bombero international, and Sputnik’s Markus Dietrich being reunited with Ostlicht Filmproduktion’s Guido Schwab and Marcel Lenz for his new project  Hidden.

Another venture to promote fresh new ideas for the children’s film sector is also being promoted by the German regional film fund MDM and the Dutch Film Fund.

MDM’s Manfred Schmidt and the Nederlands Filmfonds’ Monique Ruinen announced at last month’s Kids Regio Forum in Erfurt that a special German-Dutch Co-Development Fund is to be established by the end of this year to support the development of original stories for children’s film production.

The guidelines and the budget for the planned fund will be made known in the autumn.

MDM is a partner with Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg and the Polish Film Institute in the German-Polish Co-Development Fund and had been one of the founders with Medienboard, the German Federal Film Board (FFA) and the Russian Cinema Fund in the now defunct German-Russian Co-Development Fund.