EXCLUSIVE: Veteran UK producer Patrick Cassavetti has boarded Marat Alykulov’s black comedy Lenin?!.

Cassavetti, producer on Terry Gilliam’s Brazil and Fear And Loathing in Las Vegas - agreed to become executive producer on the Kyrgyzstani project following talks in Cannes last month.

Speaking exclusively to ScreenDaily at this year’s Moscow Business Square (MBS), producer Joanna Bence of Curb Denizen Productions said that Cassavetti will also offer new ‘perks’ to the ‘Help Bury Lenin?!’ crowdfunding campaign by giving burgeoning filmmakers the chance to receive personal feedback on their past or upcoming productions.

Bence also revealed that German-born, London-based DoP Stephan Bookas - who has worked on Maleficent and the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy - is confirmed as cinematographer for the project, which was pitched at the MBS’s co-production forum last year after having been presented at Busan’s Asian Project Market and Connecting Cottbus in autumn 2012.

Together with Curb Denizen producer partner Fyodor Druzin, Bence was back again at this year’s MBS, pitching a documentary project, Hannah Moon’s The A Women, from the company’s Melbourne-based Australian arm.

Finnish rock star joins Germanika feature

Leonid Choub, vp international at St Petersburg-based production house Proline Film, told ScreenDaily that the Finnish rock star and UNICEF National Ambassador Jyrki Linnankivi has agreed to appear in Russian director Valeria Gai Germanika’s next film Night Light, which was pitched at the MBS forum last year.

Choub explained that Linnankivi had also written songs for the film, and music from an existing song may be adapted for the film’s musical score.

The presentation of Germanika’s latest feature, Yes And Yes - handled internationally by Reflexion Films - as one of two Russian films in Moscow’s main competition this week, could have an influence on whether additional producers decide to board the project.

Almost $1m in production support was granted by the Russian Federation’s Ministry of Culture, and pre-production is now underway. Principal photography is set to commence in Moscow this September.

Proline is also still developing Ivan Bolotnikov’s feature Kharms, which was presented at the 2010 edition of the MBS forum and subsequently at the Sofia Meetings in March 2011

Support for the project’s script development came from Rotterdam’s Hubert Bals Fund and $1m production funding has been granted by the Russian Federation’s Ministry of Culture.

Pre-production on the story inspired by the life of the poet, writer and dramatist Daniel Kharms who, according to Bolotnikov, is akin in spirit to such figures as Eugene Ionesco and Samuel Beckett, is due to begin this autumn.

Gogol adaptations

Proline is set to be the Russian partner on an English-language adaptation of the 19th century writer Nikolai Gogol’s short story The Portrait, currently being adapted by the Russian-American fine artists and screenwriters Anastasia Elena and Elena Vladimir Baranoff.

Speaking exclusively to ScreenDaily in Moscow, the Baranoffs said that they are looking for a UK-based production house to partner on the historical drama, which would feature an English and Russian cast and be shot at locations in Suzdal, the Ivanovsky Oblast and Saint Petersburg, with interiors filmed on UK sound stages.

There are plans to access funds from the Russian Federation’s Ministry of Culture or the Russian Cinema Fund (Fond Kino) for the project.

Works by the 19th century short story writer and playwright are currently in demand for adaptation by Russian filmmakers.

This sixth edition of the MBS forum saw veteran Russian director Andrey Khrzhanovsky pitching his multigenre project, The Nose, Or The Outsider Conspiracy, which is based on Gogol’s eponymous short story and the Shostakovich opera adapted from Gogol’s work.

Another short story, Viy, was produced by the Russian Film Group and Marins Group Entertainment and directed by Oleg Stepchenko in 3D. It was released in Russian cinemas at the beginning of this year where it posted a record  $17m on its opening weekend.

And a contemporary re-working of Gogol’s satire The Inspector General (Revizor) as the anti-corruption comedy Fool’s Day (Den Duraka) has been shooting this spring under the direction of Alexander Baranov and production of Timur Bekmambetov, to be distributed by Bazelevs Distribution this November.

Mutu reunited with Mindadze

July will see the beginning of principal photography on another project pitched at a previous edition of the MBS co-production event: Alexander Mindadze’s Lovely Hans, Dear Peter.

The co-production between Mindadze’s Passenger Film, Germany’s ma.ja.de Fim and Ukraine’s Sota Cinema Group will see the director reunited for the second time with the internationally recognised Romanian cinematographer Oleg Mutu (4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days) who had previously worked with Mindadze on his Berlinale competition film Innocent Saturday, pitched at the first Moscow co-production forum.

The film’s cast includes German actors Jakob Diehl, Birgit Minichmayr, Mark Waschke and Marc Hosemann.

Moscow Business Square 2014

A total of 27 projects - ranging from Chilean sci-fi to Lithuanian tragi-comedy - were pitched in a public forum on the first day of this year’s MBS.

Chilean director André Arancibia and producer Felipe Aichele of Santiago-based Demente Producciones were in Moscow looking for Russian partners for their project Incarnation, which addresses the potential extinction of bees and the subsequent consequences for humanity.

The project would be something of an innovation for Chilean cinema since the sci-fi genre is uncharted territory in that country.

Moreover, Incarnation would mark the first foray into co-production between Chile and Russia as Arancibia, who studied directing at Prague’s FAMU after attending film schools in Chile and Spain, wants to shoot this love story drama set in the future - in 2067 - in the Northern Russian region of Karelia.

Speaking about the response to the project in Moscow over the four-day event, Aichele said that they were looking for a Russian partner who could provide the production services and also information about how people live in the Russian countryside.

“Coming to the Moscow Business Square was the best place for this project because we met lots of Russian producers as well as producers from other countries who have co-production treaties with Russia like France and Germany - we don’t have one between Chile and Russia,” he said.

“We were interested to know about the different methods of shooting and legislation here, compared to Chile. And it was an opportunity to meet and get to know colleagues from other countries of Latin America.”

Arancibia pointed out that the project’s screenwriter lived in Saint Petersburg for a while, “so he knows quite a lot about Russia. Moreover, we had a meeting here at the weekend with a documentary film-maker who has made many films about Karelia and saw a film about life in the country.”

He stressed that the project would be “a genuine co-production” with Chilean and Russian actors playing the male and female leads.

Meanwhile, Lithuanian producer Ieva Norviliene of Vilnius-based Tremora revealed that the Saulius Drunga’s tragicomedy Zuckerzeit  has already seen Paris-based Reel Suspects come on board as a sales agent and Latvia’s Angels Studio as a co-producer.

Zuckerzeit is Tremora’s third collaboration with Drunga after his successful 2010 debut Anarchy in Zirmunai, also sold by Reel Suspects, and the 2011 film Laura And The Movies.

The director describes his new project as “a horror story with a twist and tongue-in-cheek jokes”.

Dreyfuss cast in apocalyptic thriller

Veteran US actor Richard Dreyfuss and French Canadian Francois Arnaud are attached to the forum’s second-highest budgeted project, Argentinian producer-director Rodrigo H. Vila’s The Last Man. The $5.8m feature will be produced by his Buenos Aires-based Cinema 7 Films.

Vila said in Moscow that he is “in discussion” with a couple of US majors for distribution of the English-language apocalyptic thriller about a war veteran with PTSD who believes the end of the world is coming.

Amadeus picks Dovzhenko

Ukrainian producer Volodymyr Filippov of Kiev’s Insightmedia Producing Center confirmed in his pitch in Moscow that UK-based sales agent Amadeus Entertainment will handle international distribution for Konstantin Konovalov’s next feature, Alexander Dovzhenko. Odessa - Debut.

The feature centres on influential 1920s film director Alexander Dovzhenko, often cited as one of the most important early Soviet filmmakers, alongside Sergei Eisenstein.

B&H Film Distribution are already in place to handle the theatrical release in Ukraine, and director Konovalov explained that Ukrainian-Russian rock musician/poet Sergey Babkin has been approached to play the title character.

Ukrainian actress Olga Kurylenko, star of Oblivion and Quantum of Solace, has also been approached to play Dovzhenko’s love interest, Julia Solntseva.

Amadeus has previously handled international sales on another of Filippov’s productions, Strong Ivan (Ivan Syla) by Victor Andrienko.

Vlad Ketkovich expands into fiction

Documentary producer Vlad Ketkovich attended MBS as international consultant for the fiction feature debut of documentary director Andrey Redkin, Nobody Nowhere, to be produced by Moscow-based Graffiti Films.

Ketkovich told ScreenDaily that he had spoken with a sales agent about the drama set in the Siberian Tundra, which is based on Redkin’s own experiences of working on oil rigs, and plans to submit the project to the B’EST - Baltic Bridge East by West training programme for this autumn.

He added that he had been “very pleased” with the MBS Documentary Day, attended by leading European TV commissioners such as Nick Fraser of the BBC’s Storyville and Anne-Mette Hoffmann Meyer, head of documentaries and co-productions at the Danish Broadcasting Corporation.

Ketkovich said he received a “very good response” from Fraser to his production of Tatyana Soboleva’s Heralds From The Big World about a group of Russian doctors who leave their families for six months to sail on a boat into the Russian backwoods to provide healthcare to isolated communities.

He has been able to access additional finance from within Russia for the film’s post-production and hopes to release the completed film this September.