Disney produces first Russian film

'Book of Masters' based on local fairy tales

Walt Disney’s first locally produced Russian pic is “Kniga Masterov” (The Book of Masters) a children’s adventure based on some of the country’s most famous fairy tales and characters.

Written and directed by Vadim Sokolovsky, head of production and acquisitions at Disney CIS, the Mouse House’s Russian arm, “The Book” is being produced with Moscow’s Three-T Studio, founded by director Nikita Mikhalkov.

Shooting on the film — which has a reported budget of around $7 million — began this month outside Minsk with studio filming scheduled later at Moscow’s Mosfilm Studios.

Drawing on stories “adapted from Russian fairy tales we all know from childhood,” the movie is aimed at family audiences with a release date set for fall 2009, Marina Zhigalov-Ozkan, Disney CIS head and general producer of the film said Monday.

Leonid Vereshchagin, general director of Three-T, said the studio was pleased to be working with Disney on its first film in Russia.

“We are extremely encouraged that Disney, known throughout the world for its film versions of immortal stories, aims to revive the feature-film fairy-tale genre in Russia,” Vereshchagin added.

Sokolovsky, an experienced TV drama director whose work includes “An Occasional Fellow-Traveler,” “The Ticket to the Harem” and “Ambulance 2,” was last year nominated for Russia’s Golden Eagle National Cinematography Award for his TV series “The Ticket to the Harem.”

Sokolovsky had also gained experience working with Hollywood studios.

Jason Reed, general manager of Walt Disney Studios Intl. Production, said, “The credit goes to our team in Russia. Because of Marina Zhigalova-Ozkan’s strong leadership and the hard work of her team, our first Russian-language production fully delivers on the goals of our mission internationally.

“We are working with a great director, one of the premier production companies in the world, and — perhaps most importantly — we have a wonderful story that will be a strong addition to the Disney tradition.”