Picturehouse and New Line International have snapped up themajority of the world on Francois Girard's dark romantic adaptation Silk, which will stars Keira Knightley,Michael Pitt, Koji Yakusho and Alfred Molina.

Filming is due to begin at the end of February in Matsumoto, Japan,and will end in late May in Italy, as the crew follows the trail of AlessandroBaricco's besteller across Egypt and Asia.

The Canadian-Italian-Japanese co-production is being put togetherby Rhombus Media, Fandango SRL and Bee Vine Pictures, in association withProductions Soie and Vice Versa Films.

Alliance Atlantis affiliate Motion Picture Distribution willrelease in Canada, Fandango in Italy and Asmik Ace in Japan.

New Line, a joint venture partner in Picturehouse alongside HBO,will handle all other territories and will begin sales in Berlin next month.

Baricco's story follows a 19th century French silkworm merchantHerve Joncour as he travels to Japan and embarks upon a secret affair with amysterious woman.

Girard and Michael Golding adapted the screenplay and Niv Fichman,Nadine Luque, Domenico Procacci and Sonoko Sakai will serve as producers.

New Line's senior vice president of business affairs CarolynBlackwood negotiated the deal with Stephen Saltzman of Loeb and Loeb on behalfof the filmmakers.

"Silkis a sweeping erotic tale that will translate gloriously from page toscreen," Picturehouse president Bob Berney said. "With the book'smany dedicated fans around the world, we look forward to bringing this film totheaters."

"Alessandro Baricco's book is perfect movie material," Girard,whose credits include The Red Violin, added. "It offers both the intimacy of a grippingemotional tale and the epic quality of a journey to the end of the world."

Picturehouse's upcoming releases include Michael Winterbottom's TristramShandy: A Cock & Bull Story, Mary Harron's The Notorious Bettie Page, Steven Shainberg's Fur, which recently wrapped production andstars Nicole Kidman and Robert Downey Jr, and Robert Altman's A Prairie HomeCompanion.