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COVID has played havoc with production schedules across the globe, and for the first major Russian movie to shoot on location in Europe since the pandemic struck last year, it’s been a case study in compromise and adaptation.

Restrictions on crew movements, the director’s COVID infection and a delay by local authorities in granting permission to shoot on location in Germany have combined to push the schedule of the €10 million ($11.8 million) historical drama “Nuremberg” back by a year.

The film — an international co-production with Russia, the Czech Republic, Germany and the U.K. — incorporated COVID safety protocols in order to shoot on location near Prague, which is buzzing with productions right now. But ambitious plans to shoot in the actual prison that housed top Nazis during the post-WWII Nuremberg trials in 1946 have been put on hold after local authorities deemed the idea too risky as COVID cases rose in Germany.

Addressing the restrictions around COVID had added around 25% to the budget, says producer Elmira Aynulova, who produced with Maria Zhuromskaya, Arkadiy Fateev, Anton Neichel, Steffen Wild. It is supported by the Ministry of Culture of Russian Federation, Media Finance Capital, the Russian Historical Society, the Alexander Pechersky Foundation and other non-profit organizations from Germany and Israel.

German co-producers Visual Arts and Russian director Nikolay Lebedev as well as the film’s producers remain hopeful that there may be still be the possibility to shoot in Nuremberg later. Meanwhile, the production is seeking locations elsewhere to complete photography before post-production scheduled for the fall.

Despite the setback, the Hall of Justice, the location of the 1946 trial at Nuremberg’s Palace of Justice, was re-created on a specially built set at Mosfilm studios in Moscow.

The production was denied a shooting permit for the Nuremberg prison, which still houses inmates. The state film promotion body, German Films, notes that full schedules, particularly for locally shot TV streaming shows, meant there were barely any crew or technical facilities available currently for international shoots.

“The historic cells from the trials are located in the same property as Nuremberg’s modern prison,” says Anton Neichel of Visual Arts. “Those locations were closed to us because of the COVID pandemic. We’re still trying to get permission, although the chances are not great. People’s health comes first. Since we have no time to wait longer we will have probably have no choice but to change the shooting location.”

“Nuremberg” stars Evgeny Mironov and Sergey Bezrukov, along with Moscow-based Austrian Wolfgang Cerny and Danish Lara Bach. The film is a thriller set against the backdrop of the post-WWII Nuremberg war crimes trials.

Aynulova says the production still hopes to add authenticity by shooting on location in Nuremberg city prison, where the
most senior Nazis were held awaiting trial.

“Now COVID numbers are rising again in Germany and we are looking at other locations to keep costs manageable, but still hope to shoot in Nuremberg,” she says.

Director Lebedev, known for Russian box office hits “Legend No. 17” and “The Crew,” says: “Perhaps the main discovery for me was the understanding that at the beginning of the Nuremberg process all the allies — the USSR, the USA, Great Britain, France — were together and supported each other. And I really want this topic to be [shown] very clearly in our film. It is better to be together, not apart, even in conflict situations it is better to look
for solutions together. This is especially true today, when international relations are so aggravated.”

The film is due for release through Universal in early 2022.