Oscar-winningCzech director Jiri Menzel is edging ever closer to a starting date for hislong-gestating I Served The King Of England.

The Euros 3m project, puttogether by producers AQS and Bioscop as a Czech/Hungarian/German/Slovakianco-production, is close to being fully financed. The first part of the 61-dayshoot is slated to take place in the autumn. Shooting will then resume in theSpring of 2006.

The film is anadaptation of the book by Bohumil Hrabal. Menzel was close friends with Hrabal,who died in 1997 and the two men's earlier collaborations include the AcademyAward winning Closely Observed Trains and Pearls On The Bottom.

I Served TheKing Of England is apicaresque tale about a diminutive Czech waiter looking for love. Action spansfrom the Nazi era to the 1960s. Menzel first wrote the screenplay severalyears ago, but has recently revised it.

Menzel was oneof the key figures in the Czech New Wave of the 1960s. Following the Sovietoccupation of Czechoslovakia following the Prague Spring, he was briefly bannedfrom filmmaking.