Australia producer Jonathan Shteinman has extricated The Children Of Huang Shi from Icon's take-over of Dendy Films and done a deal that will see 20th Century Fox Film Distributors release the film in Australia.

The film premiered in China in early April and Fox will release the film in Australia in July under the name Children Of The Silk Road. It tells the true story of two westerners, a young British journalist and a courageous Australian nurse, who help save 60 orphans by leading them hundreds of miles across China during the Japan invasion of the 1930s.

The filmstars Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Radha Mitchell, David Wenham, Chow Yun Fat and Michelle Yeoh.

When director Roger Spottiswoode's Chinese/Australian/German co-production began filming in late 2006 in China, Dendy and Shteinman's company Bluewater Pictures held Australian and New Zealand rights.

When Icon won control of Dendy Cinemas in early February it also secured the distribution company Dendy Films and a slate of unreleased films including the Australian titles The Children Of Huang Shi, Disgrace, Ten Empty and Tender Hook.

The film is one of only a few in the past few years with Australian parentage that has had a budget of more than $18.8m (A$20 million). It is the first official co-production between Australia and China.

'We are very excited to have secured a film of this calibre. The story, cast and production value are excellent and we are expecting a great response from Australian audiences,' said Marcos Oliveira, managing director of 20th Century Fox in Australia.

Meanwhile, several of Dendy Films' distribution staff were today made redundant by Icon including the marketing and publicity manager Nicki Martin, who has already secured a job at SBS TV. The redundancies signal that the deal is now official.