Beta Cinema has picked up the international sales rights to Dani Levy's hotly debated new comedy Mein Fuehrer - The Truly Truest Truth About Adolf Hitler which X Verleih is opening with 250 prints in German cinemas on Jan 11.

The Y Filme production has already aroused considerable interest internationally in such countries as the US, France, Italy and the UK and will have its first screening for international buyers at the Berlinale's European Film Market next month. (An English-subtitled version of the comedy will be screening as part of the general release in one of the CineStar cinemas at Berlin's Potsdamer Platz from Jan 11.)

'With Mein Fuehrer we want to continue the winning streak of German films,' producer Stefan Arndt said. 'Beta Cinema is our ideal partner since they've proven with Downfall and The Lives of Others how to successfully market controversial films abroad'.

'We are delighted to be working with X Filme once again,' Dirk Schuerhoff of Beta Cinema added. 'Mein Fuehrer has great international potential. The worldwide media interest in the first German comedy about Adolf Hitler is gigantic.'

Levy's film is set at the end of 1944 with a sickly and depressive Hitler (played by comedian Helge Schneider) who wants to whip up the masses one more time with a rousing speech. The only one who can still help him is his former acting teacher, the Jew Adolf Gruenbaum (Ulrich Muehe) who is taken out of the concentration camp to bring the Fuehrer back to top form in just five days.

The Hitler satire has been criticised from various quarters ahead of the the world premiere on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings in Essen and Berlin. According to the dpa news service, Dieter Graumann, vice president of the Central Jewish Council in Germany, took issue with what he perceived as trivialisation in the film: 'I myself come from a Holocaust family. Therefore, I get bad stomach-ache when one makes the subject of Hitler and the Holocaust into a comedy.'

Moreover, the dramatist Rolf Hochhuth - himself no stranger to controversy in the past and the author of a tragicomedy about Hitler, Heil Hitler, which will have its premiere in Berlin's Academy of Arts this Saturday (Jan 13) - criticised the film as a 'transfiguration' of Hitler and his time, arguing that it was 'inexplicable how a man, who is himself a Jew, can bring such a falsification of history into the cinema.'