EXCLUSIVE: The UK’s Framestore and producer David P. Kelly are set to partner on a $5m Mexican Cold War feature Lunik III, pitched at this week’s Moscow Business Square (MBS).

Speaking exclusively to ScreenDaily, producer Victor Zavala Kugler of Jade Films said the English-language project was being pitched for the first time in Moscow since being introduced at the market in Guadalajara earlier this year

Kelly and Framestore’s animation supervisor Max Solomon first met Kugler and the film’s writer-director Antonio Zavala Kugler during the four-day event in Moscow.

¨We have a co-production agreement between Mexico and the UK, and the UK can work with Russia through the European Convention, so we don’t have to wait for an agreement between Mexico and Russia,¨ Kugler said.

¨It would be a very organic co-production, there are no bolts in the structure,¨ Kelly observed.

¨We will shoot the film in Mexico and work with David on accessing a British cast and having Framestore handling the opening scenes with the satellite and the Moon as well as other CGI effects such as those to recreate Acapulco of the 1950s,¨ added Kugler.

The screenplay for Lunik III is based on (apparent) facts suggesting the Russian satellite which transmitted the first images of the dark side of the Moon was gutted in Mexico in 1959. Recently declassified documents reveal a plot by the CIA to induce Mexican agents to disembowel Lunik III and help the US win the space race over the USSR.

Kugler and Kelly, who is setting up the new production entity David P. Kelly Films to co-produce this film, have already started speaking with potential Russian production partners and distributors to board the project.

¨The idea is to raise a third of the budget from Russia and have ‘name’ Russian actors, who can bring audiences into the cinemas,¨ Kugler said. “We need them for scenes in cabarets, Mexico City and Acapulco and they would speak Russian, while the other characters speak English or Spanish.”

Described by the director as ¨an homage to Kubrick’s Dr Strangelove¨, the film is set to be shot in 3d and black-and-white.

Moreover, the producers are considering approaching Pink Floyd’s David Gilmore to record new interpretations of music from Dark Side of the Moon with a Cuban or Russian-Mexican orchestra for the film’s soundtrack.

¨We plan to have the financing in place by the end of the year so that we could go into production in 2015,¨ Kugler added.

As part of a UK Focus at this year’s MBS, Kelly had spoken about working on the Russian-UK co-production Two Women, starring Ralph Fiennes, while Solomon had given a talk on the technical challenges faced in the making of Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity.

Moscow Business Square’s pitch prizes to Russian projects

 Glavkino’s RUB 500,000 prize of production services went to the multigenre project The Nose, or the Outsider Conspiracy by the veteran Russian director Andrey Krzhanovsky which aims to adapt the Gogol short story and the Shostakovich opera of the same name for the big screen.

Meanwhile, MBS partner Samsung awarded its prize ¨for a courageous and innovative approach¨ to film-maker Ekaterina Eremenko for her documentary project Lake Vostok about a body of water 4,000 metres under the Antarctic ice.

The € 356,000 production by the Centre of National Film Studio already has support from the Russian Federation’s Ministry of Culture, Russia’s First Channel and Eremenko’s own Berlin-based company EEFilms

French producer Thierry Lenouvel of Ciné-Sud Promotion, who attended MBS for the first time, told ScreenDaily: ¨ I accepted the invitation to come to Moscow this year because Russia is a part of the world that I have not been involved in until now, and it was an opportunity to widen my horizons.¨

¨The Latin American focus was also interesting, especially since I am already involved in one of the projects - the Colombian thriller documentary The Confidant by Luis Villegas - selected here. There are many talented film-makers in Colombia and I have already been a co-producer on many projects there,¨ Lenouvel said

Other international participants at this year’s edition of the Moscow Business Square - apart from the pitchers - included producers Thanassis Karathanos (Pallas Film), Paul-Boris Lobadowsky (Est Ouest Films), Paulo Roberto de Carvalho (Autentika Films), Pablo Iraola (Ukbar Filmes), Saar Yogev (Black Sheep Film Productions) as well as sales agents Laurent Danielou (Rezo Film), Diana Karklin (Rise and Shine World Sales), festival representatives Ali Al Jabri (Abu Dhabi), Mira Staleva (Sofia Meetings), Marje Liske (Baltic Event), Bernd Buder (FilmFestival Cottbus/Connecting Cottbus), Krzysztof Gierat (Krakow Film Festival), Cíntia Gil (Doclisboa) and Raja Chhinal from India’s NFDC


New Russian-Italy co-production underway

Although plans for the Russian-Italian Film Academy went the same way as the ventures with the French and Germans, collaborations between the two countries nevertheless have continued as shown by  Amori Elementari by Sergio Basso, which was presented at this week’s Moscow International Film Festival.

That film’s Russian co-producer, Uljana Kovaleva’s Zori Film, has since joined forces this spring with two other Russian companies, Pimanov & Partners and ODA-Film, and the Italian production houses GlobeFilms and BelleFilm to produce Di Tutti i Colori (Lyubov pret-a-porter) which was written and directed by Max Nardari and shot at locations in Rome and Moscow.

The lyrical romantic comedy stars Russian actress Olga Pogodina opposite Italian actor and male model Andrea Preti,  with other parts taken by the veteran Italian star Giancarlo Giannini, Paolo Contincini, Nino Frassica, and Tosca d’Aquino, among others.

The Wounded Angel wraps

Kazakh film director Emir Baigazin has wrapped principal photography in his home country on his latest feature The Wounded Angel  which was developed as part of a Berlinale Residency in Berlin last autumn.

The film has been co-produced by Cologne-based augenschein Filmproduktion which was behind the opening film in this year’s Perspektive Deutsches Kino sidebar at the Berlinale with Maximilian Leo’s My Brother’s Keeper.

France’s Capricci Films, who is serving as the film’s world sales agent, is also a co-producer.

Baigazin’s feature debut Harmony Lessons - co-produced by Berlin-based Rohfilm and France’s Arizona Films - premiered at the 2012 Berlinale where it won a Silver Bear for best cinematography.