Speaking at the third Odessa International Film Festival the veteran director said financing was nearly complete on his €5m feature Eisenstein In Guanajuato.

Greenaway (pictured, centre) told Screendaily that he expected preproduction to begin in Mexico in September, adding that he hoped to shoot “either side of this Christmas in December 2012 and January 2013.”

Greenaway continued: “I always think that it takes as long to make a film as it does to have a baby – and we’re on time.”

The co-production between Amsterdam-based Submarine, Fu Works and France’s Superprod will shoot entirely in the small Mexican town of Guanajuat,o around 300 miles south of Mexico City, where Eisenstein fell briefly but intensely in love.

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Greenaway explained the film would be set during the period when the 33-year-old Russian filmmaker was researching for the unfinished Que Viva México! in Mexico from 1929-1931. “I regard this [period] as a key situation to the many curiosities and peculiarities of this extraordinary gentleman, whom I consider to be the greatest filmmaker we have ever had the pleasure to know.”

Greenaway admitted it would probably be impossible to find a Russian actor as an Eisenstein lookalike. “He had a particular physiognomy which would be difficult to reconstruct, but we are certainly going to look for a first-rate actor who can impersonate him.”

Greenaway plans to weave original photos and archive footage of Eisenstein at work into the film, with the result that “alongside the real and factual Eisenstein, we will posit the notion of an actor playing the part.”

Odessa’s first weekend saw cinema legend Claudia Cardinale in town as a guest of honour to present an open-air screening of Federico Fellini’s 1963 film 8 ½ and receive the Gold Duke Lifetime Achievement Award during the opening ceremony.

Irish actor Cillian Murphy represented Rufus Norris’ Broken in the international competition and attended a gala premiere of Rodrigo Cortés’ Red Lights, while Russian director Roman Prygunov and his lead actor Danila Kozlovsky were warmly received by the audience at the gala screening of Dukhless, based on the eponymous novel by Sergei Minaev. This production by Art Pictures Studio and Kinoslovo was the opening film at this year’s Moscow International Film Festival. Universal will release in Russia on Oct 4.

Other international guests arriving at the festival on the Black Sea included directors Todd Solondz (Dark Horse), Christophe Barratier (War Of The Buttons), actress Geraldine Chaplin (City Lights), actors Jack Reynor and Seana Kerslake (Dollhouse) and producer David Luisi (The Sandman).

Meanwhile, Screen learnt on the festival’s sidelines that the third St Petersburg International Kinoforum will now be held this year from Sept 21-29 and incorporate four existing festivals: the ‘Message To Man’ Documentary Festival; the national film festival ‘Vivat, Cinema of Russia!’; the student film festival ‘Beginning’; and the St Petersburg International Film Festival.

The event is also expected to include roundtables on such issues as music and cinema, cinema and Sweden to mark the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Ingmar Bergman’s birth, and young French cinema.

  • Veteran writer-director Stanislav Govorukhin, who is also chairman of the state duma culture committee, whas been appointed as the successor to Alexey German Sr as Kinoforum president.