Czech director Jan Sverak is gearing up to shoot World War II drama Dark Blue World (Tmavomodry Svet), his first film since 1996 foreign-language Oscar-winner Kolya.

The $6m film, which cranks up next week, is about Czech pilots in the Royal Air Force (RAF) during WWII. The script was written by Jan Sverak's father Zdenek who will also play a cameo role as an Indian pilot in the RAF.

The film's cast is headed by Ondrej Vetchy, British actress Tara Fitzgerald and German actor Hans Assmann. Regular Sverak collaborator Vladimir Smutny is the DoP.

Eurimages is contributing $630,000 towards the film which exceeds by three times the sum which the Czech Republic pays each year for Eurimages membership. However Germany's Helkon Media is the film's main backer. Helkon's Werner Koenig is producing with Kolya producer Eric Abraham. Additional funding comes from Czech Television and mobile phone company Paegas.

Sverak said the film will combine historical background with personal stories. Although more than 10% of takes are taking place in the air, Sverak stressed he is not making an action movie. "I am more interested in the human stories of the chase pilots and in their courage. Without it, the war would not have been finished," Sverak said.