Jiri Menzelwill begin filming his long-awaited film IServed the King of England on March 9th. German actress Julia Jentsch, who won numerous awards for her performance in thetitle role in Sophie Scholl, which isup for an Oscar, is starring along with Czech actor OldrichKaiser.

The film is based on the novel of the same name by the Czechauthor Bohumil Hrabal. Menzel said thefilm would see a limited release shortly before the end of 2006.

The Czech-language project will be shot over a nine-week periodin a studio and at various locations around the Czech Republic. The budget for the projectis $3.5m, roughly three times the average budget for a Czech film.

I Served the King ofEngland has languished in pre-production, owing to legal battles over therights to the book.

Currently a Czech-Slovak co-production, the film is innegotiations for third-country partners. Czech private broadcaster Nova haspre-bought domestic TV rights, and co-producer Bioscopwill handle domestic theatrical distribution, but international rights arestill available. The project has also received $208,794 (CZK 5m) from the StateFund for the Development of Czech Cinematography.

I Served the King ofEngland comes 40 years after Menzel shot hisOscar-winning film Closely Watched Trains,also based on a novel by Hrabal. The director's mostrecent film, The Life and ExtraordinaryAdventures of Private Ivan Chonkin, won sevenawards from the Czech Film and Television Academy in 1995, including BestPicture and Best director.