Finnish expatriate and Hollywood director Renny Harlin is set to return to his homeland, to direct a World War II drama, for the first time since making his US debut as director of A Nightmare On Elm Street 4 in 1988.

Harlin, seen here directing Sylvester Stallone in his last film Driven, told local Finnish media of his plans to film the dramatic story of Carl Gustaf Mannerheim, a man still revered 50 years after his death for resisting the invasion of Stalin's Red Army against overwhelming odds during World War II.

Mannerheim is credited with having saved Finland from the fate of most east European countries, which succumbed to post-war Soviet Communist domination. "Several young-generation actors would surely consider this the opportunity of a lifetime to play the role of a multi-faceted hero in a big epic movie," said Harlin, who mentioned British star Jude Law as a possible lead.

According to Harlin an English-language version of the screenplay should be ready at the end of August, after which he plans to raise at least $30m for filming. So far local Finnish companies like mobile phone maker Nokia, paper manufacturer UPM-Kymmene, banking group Nordea and the publisher Otava have sponsored the manuscript. An organisation called C.G.E. Mannerheim, Champion of Liberty, has been set up to help raise money for project.