'Taras bulba' is company's biggest ever film

Russia’s leading independent sales and production shingle, Central Partnership, is shooting its biggest project yet, a $25 million adaptation of Nikolai Gogol’s Cossack swashbuckler “Taras bulba.”

A co-production with Russian television channel Rossiya, “Taras bulba” — directed by Vladimir Bortko and starring acclaimed Ukrainian actor Bogdan Stupka — will be ready for a winter 2009 release, said Armen Dishdishian, veep, international, for Central Partnership.

One of a slate of three new features, the two-hour costume drama tells the story of the fierce defense Ukraine’s Cossack warriors put up in the 16th century when Polish armies intent on conquest swept across their lands. United Artists released a version starring Tony Curtis in 1962.

The film has already notched up pre-sales to China, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Turkey and Romania.

Two other, smaller budget productions, are also prepping.

“Man of the East” (working title) — a sort of Russian take on James Bond that Central Partnership intends to be the first of a series. The film, which shot on location last Fall in Malta, is the company’s first production made entirely outside of Russia.

The $6 million movie is directed by Oleg Pogodin and is planned both as a feature and a four-part mini series.

“Ghost” (working title) stars top Russian thesp Konstantin Khabensky (“Day Watch”) as a novelist with writer’s block who turns to a hired killer for inspiration unaware that he is being set up to be framed for murder.

Directed by Karen Oganesian, the thriller has a $2 million budget.

“Central Partnership pioneered international sales of Russian independent productions and this new slate continues that tradition,” Dishdishian said.

The shingle had done strong sales and acquisition business at Cannes, Dishdishian added.

Sales include: Sundance award-winning “Mermaid,” directed by Anna Melikya, to IFC for U.S. and Canada and Flash Forward Entertainment for Taiwan.

Dishdishian said Cannes had also proved strong for acquisitions, with the company’s slate of mainstream and limited release purchases (for its new CP Classics label) filled now for the next two years.

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