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‘Witches’ hitches U.K.-Russian team

WWII female fighter pic to be helmed by Siddig

MOSCOW — U.K. production house Poseidon Films and Russia’s Soyuz Kino Service are partnering on an ambitious $20 million World War II epic, “Night Witches,” to be helmed by Brit Alexander Siddig.

Story centers on the real-life squadron of female fighter pilots called the Night Witches, who became one of the U.S.S.R.’s most feared fighting outfits.

McDowell on board

Producer Frixos Constantine of Poseidon said pic will start shooting in Russia in October, using original fighter planes and an international cast. Only thesp confirmed is Malcolm McDowell, Siddig’s uncle. Film, from a script by Siddig and April Holloway, will be shot in English and Russian.

Financing is being put together by Kent Walwin of London’s Screen Partners. He said the pic will exploit convoluted joint-production financing legislation between Russia and Canada, and Canada and the U.K., as there is no direct treaty between Russia and the U.K.

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Siddig, best known as a thesp in “Vertical Limit,” “Reign of Fire” and on TV’s “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” expects post-production to be done in Canada.

Power pic

Meanwhile, Russian helmer Pavel Lungin is developing a film based on controversial Russian power broker Boris Berezovsky.

Paris-based Lungin, whose most recent pic, “The Wedding,” took a special jury prize at Cannes last year, is working on a script with writers Yuly Dubov and Alexander Borodyansky. Script is based on the novel “The Big Slice” by Dubov, Berezovsky’s longtime business partner.

Berezovsky, dubbed “the Godfather of the Kremlin” by Forbes magazine, was at the heart of the inner circle around Boris Yeltsin in his later years in office. He’s widely believed to have used his media resources, including control of TV station Channel 1 ORT, to help put President Vladimir Putin in power. But he fell afoul of the new regime, and now lives in exile in Paris.

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