Mark Schlichter and Nicole Kellerhals' Berlin-based production outfit Cowgirl Pictures has acquired the film rights to the journalist Ingeborg Prior's book Der Clown Und Die Zirkusreiterin for Schlichter to direct in summer 2004.

Currently under the working title of Circus Girl (Das Leichte Maedchen), the Euros 6m project is being structured as an international co-production with partners from France and the Netherlands.

It tells the true story of the Jewish circus artiste Irene Bento-Storms who fell in love with the clown Peter during the Nazi terror. Thanks to the courageous stand taken by him and the legendary circus director Adolf Althoff, she was saved from the fate of the death camps.

The Bento-Storms, Althoff's son Franz and Bernhard Paul's Circus Roncalli will all be involved in the making of the film, and leading young German actor Moritz Bleibtreu (Run Lola Run) has reportedly expressed interest in playing one of the lovers.

A documentary entitled Zuflucht Im Zirkus about the Bento-Storms was made by director Micha Terjung in 1995 in collaboration with Prior during the research for her book.