Italian director Giuseppe Tornatore and Medusa vice-president Giampaolo Letta will be flying out to New York next week to talk to Nicole Kidman about joining the cast of the Oscar-winning director's upcoming English language movie, Leningrad.

While Rome-based Medusa does not expect to sign a contract next week, company spokesman Claudio Trionfera confirmed that Kidman had recently expressed a strong interest in working with Tornatore and has agreed to meet the Cinema Paradiso director in New York, where she is currently filming The Stepford Wives.

Leningrad will focus on the 900-day Nazi attack on the city during World War II. "The battle was memorable because Hitler thought it would be over quickly but he was then forced to retreat. It's a key episode in the war which has never before been seen in cinemas in the west," Letta said.

While Kidman recently pulled out of Von Trier's upcoming picture Manderlay due to scheduling conflicts, she should have more time to fit the Tornatore movie into her busy timetable.

Tornatore is currently writing the film, which will be shot in Russia at the end of 2004. The film is expected to be released in 2005 or 2006. Tornatore's brother, Francesco, is producing through his Rome-based outfit, Sciarlo, with Medusa's Letta.

Tornatore's last film was 2000's Italian-language Malena, which starred Monica Bellucci. In 1998, he directed the English-language movie The Legend Of The Pianist On The Ocean, with Tim Roth.