Norwegian directors Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg, whose first feature was the Luc Besson-written and produced western comedy, Bandidas (2006), starring Penelope Cruz and Salma Hayek, have signed to direct Max Manus, a $8.4m (Euros 6.1m) World War II epic to shoot from February 2008 for Norway's Filmkameratene.

Scripted by Thomas Nordseth from Manus' autobiographical books, it follows the young adventurer from he arrived at Nazi-occupied Norway in 1940 after having fought the Russians during the Winter War in Finland.

Manus joined Norwegian resistance and became a member of the Oslo Gang, specialising in the sinking of ships, including the spectacular sabotage of the Donau troop ship in December 1944.

'10 years ago nobody was interested in the Second World War, but now it seems to have had a come-back, judging from book sales and also from films in other countries, such as Black Book in the Netherlands and Flame & Citron in Denmark,' said Norwegian veteran producer John M Jacobsen, who was Oscar-nominated for Pathfinder and most recently Emmy-nominated for animated Elias: The Little Rescue Boat.

'The story of the legendary resistance fighter has a great potential for an action-filled, plot-driven film with a interesting lead character,' added film consultant Ivar Kohn, of the Norwegian Film Fund, which has chipped in $520,000 (Euros 380,000) development support. Jacobsen will produce in collaboration with his Filmkameratene producer, Sveinung Golimo. Max Manus is scheduled for a Christmas 2008 premiere.

The directors Ronning and Sandberg, readying their first Norwegian movie, went to film school in Stockholm, Sweden, between 1992-1994. Since then, under the name of Roenberg, they have directed and produced more than 500 commercials worldwide, including an award-winning advertising film for Budweiser. Max Manus won the pitching competition at last year's Kosmorama Trondheim International Film Festival.