Finnish actor Mikko Nousiainen, who starred in local blockbuster The Restless will play Finnish historical legend Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim in a $14.7m (Euros 10m) biopic, which will mark the return to Finland of Finnish/Hollywood director Renny Harlin (Die Hard 2: Die Harder).

Principal photography for the film has been scheduled for August 2008. It will be staged as a Finnish-Russian co-production by Finnish producer Markus Selin, of Solar Films, who has secured $1.6m (Euros 1.1m) finance from non-film industry partners as well as backing from the Mannerheim Memorial Medal.

Scripted by Heikki Vihinen, Mannerheim - the largest feature film project so far in Finland - depicts the life of the Swedish-speaking nobleman, who served the Russian Tsar, before he returned to Finland in 1917 to become the father and later president of his country. Mannerheim was commander-in-chef of the Finnish army between 1939-1944.

'We have been working on the project since nine years ago when we agreed to collaborate with the Champion of Liberty Association to make a proper film about Mannerheim,' Selin says. 'First we planned for a major international epic with a foreign cast. When it was dropped we decided we wouldn't go low-budget, definitely not under Eu10 million.'

'Financing was less difficult than I had anticipated; Mannerheim is apparently as famous in Russia as he is in Finland,' added Selin, who has backed almost 50 features.