Acclaimed Czech commercials director Ivan Zacharias has signed onto an original English-language feature about last year's Moscow hostage crisis titled Russian Theatre, Prague's Stillking Films has announced.

It is the first foray into original production announced by Stillking, a leading Prague production services company. The firm has slated the filming of Russian Theatre for late 2003. The project also marks the feature debut of Zacharias, a director who has won international plaudits for his commercials work such as Cannes Gold Lions and the UK's Design and Art Direction's Best Commercial Director Award.

Stillking owner Matthew Stillman says the firm will be seeking co-production partners once the script, penned by Michael Lerner (French Exit), is fully developed. "We're getting the script in shape and then taking it from there," he told Screendaily. Lerner is a former correspondent for Newsweek and has scripts in development with Warner Bros. and Paramount, Stillman says.

The film is based on the true events of the October 2002 siege of a Moscow theatre, which occurred after 41 Chechen militants took the audience hostage. The siege ended in the deaths of the terrorists and 120 hostages.

Stillking has handled production services on a number of big-budget US shoots in Prague, including The Bourne Identity, XXX, Shanghai Knights, From Hell, Bad Company and the upcoming Van Helsing.