New details on Russian ‘film in space’ emerge as producers seek funding

DOUGLAS, Isle of Man – New information has emerged about the Russian film ‘The Challenge’ which is set to be shot in part on the International Space Station in October.

In a recent fundraising presentation to the Russian Federal Fund for Social and Economic Support of National Cinematography, executive producer Konstantin Ernst of the First Channel television channel and director Klim Shipenko, who plans to visit the ISS , shared new script and production details. logistics involved.

Shipenko revealed that the script is still being fine-tuned, but the plot involves a cosmonaut who suffers cardiac arrest during a spacewalk and, although he survives, he will need a surgery to make sure he can handle Soyuz’s return to Earth. A heart surgeon, named Zhenya, is due to be sent to the ISS to perform the procedure with just a few weeks to prepare for the trip.

Shipenko explained that he plans to film 35 to 40 minutes of screen time aboard the ISS during a 12-day stay, and that he will hold many roles, including that of director, cameraman and makeup artist. .

The role of Zhenya will be played by Yulia Peresild or Alyona Mordovina, who were chosen from around 3,000 actresses who submitted online applications for the role late last year. Both are currently in training at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center.

Currently, Peresild is playing the role and is tasked with flying with Shipenko and professional cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov on the Soyuz flight MS-19. Mordovina is both his creative understudy and backup cosmonaut, with a final decision on who will actually go before final exams in September. Backing Shipenko is her cinematographer, Aleksey Dudin.

In his portion of the fundraising pitch, Ernst revealed other cast members including
Russian cosmonauts Oleg Novitsky and Pyotr Dubrovnik, who have been in space since April. Perhaps it was inevitable that they would be involved in one way or another, as Shipenko will clearly only be able to work with people who are on the ISS with him and the actress. It is not clear whether NASA, ESA or JAXA astronauts who will be on board the ISS during the filming will be invited to participate.

Ernst expressed disappointment at the lack of interest shown by Russian media in the film so far. However, very little official information has been revealed by his company, First Channel, and the four participants are prohibited from giving interviews or sharing images of their activities on social media.

He said the publicity would build up considerably in September, with the First Channel airing a documentary about the selection of the two actresses and a daily talk show that aired from Baikonur in the week leading up to the launch.

The production schedule, also shared with the Fund’s adjudicators, reveals that the film will be shot between October 2021 and May 2022. This suggests that the scenes on the ISS will be shot first. The post-production schedule indicates a release no earlier than the end of 2022.

The film has already sparked controversy in the Russian scientific community. Many observers, to whom the funding deals seem opaque, argue that vital resources are being diverted from space exploration and broader scientific activities to fund the film. Sergei Krikalev, director of manned programs at Russian space agency Roscosmos, and six-time space pilot, was briefly removed from his post in June, apparently due to his opposition to the project. He was quickly reinstated after numerous protests, especially from former cosmonauts.

The producers are asking the Cinematography Fund for 400 million rubles ($ 5.4 million), suggesting they are still working on the film’s final funding model. About 20 other Russian films also requested support at the same event.

It is also noteworthy that the website of the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center lists Cosmonauts Sergei Korsakov and Dmitry Petelin as the “reserve” crew for the Soyuz MS-19, suggesting that the film’s flight is still not absolutely certain to take place as currently planned.

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