Currently making Cleaner in the US with Samuel L Jackson and Ed Harris, Finnish Hollywood-director Renny Harlin will direct his first film in Finland for 20 years, a $15.8-18.8m (Euros 12m-14m) epic of Finnish historical legend CGE Mannerheim, a Swedish-speaking nobleman who served the Russian Tsar before returning in 1917 to become the father and later president of his country.

The Finnish-Russian co-production will be packaged by Finnish producer Markus Selin, of Solar Films, who co-wrote and produced Harlin's Born American, aka Arctic Heart, his 1986 Mike Norris starrer. Selin and scriptwriter Heikki Vihinen started the Mannerheim project nine years ago - 'so hopefully we can start shooting on its 10th anniversary,' said Selin.

With almost 50 titles to his credit, the producer, who has for the last four years delivered the number-one local blockbusters for the Finnish charts, expected another two countries to be involved in the film.

'Financing was less difficult than I had anticipated; Mannerheim is apparently as famous in Russia as he is in Finland,' he observed.

Selin would not disclose further details of the production, which will be fully announced on Monday, June 4 during celebrations for Finland 's official army day in Helsinki.

Based in Los Angeles, where he runs his own production outfit, Midnight Sun Pictures, Renny Harlin has made 16 features in the US. Born American, which was banned in Finland - it was considered damaging to the country's relationship with its neighbour, the Soviet Union - became his ticket to direct such Hollywood films as Die Hard 2: Die Harder, Cliffhanger and The Long Kiss Goodnight. His next will be a thriller, Brodie's Law.