Star Media plans World War II doc epic

To build on the company's 8-part series 'The Great War'

CANNES -- Star Media, one of Russia's largest production companies, is looking to put an Eastern spin on World War II with an epic documentary series in the vein of Thames Television's groundbreaking "World At War" (1973).

Star Media is planning the project, "World War II," as a 20x1 hour series exploring the decisive battles of the conflict. It will build on the company's 8-part series "The Great War," which will air on Russia's Channel One next month and which Star is selling worldwide.

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"The Great War" focuses on the key battles of the Eastern Front, from Operation Barbarossa to Stalingrad to the battle for Berlin. With a combined budget of "close to $2 million," according to Star president Vladyslav Riashyn, it's one of the most ambitious non-fiction productions to come out of Russia.

"World War II" will be even bigger. Star plans to use the same combination of historical footage, dramatic recreation and 3D animation used in "The Great War" to shoot the new series. Riashyn said Star is currently in talks with international broadcasters and producers interested in co-financing "World War II."

That Star is taking on such a high-profile project is a further sign that the Russian television market, perhaps the hardest hit by the global advertising collapse last year, is returning to strength.

"We expect revenues to be up 25% this year, so almost to pre-crisis levels," Riashyn said, "You are already seeing the international companies coming back in –--like Endemol buying (Moscow-based production house) White Media."

But with "World War II" Star Media is hoping the movement won't just be one way and the Russia-made television can travel beyond its borders.
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