BlackBookproducer San Fu Maltha has optioned bestseller BirdsWithout Wings from Louis De Bernieres, whose Captain Corelli's Mandolin was filmed in 2001 by WorkingTitle.

Thestory is set in 19th Century Turkey, just as the Ottoman empire is beginning tocrumble.

Dealingwith life in a small village split by religious and political tension, theproject promises to be on an even bigger scale than Black Book (at $20m,the most expensive feature in Dutch history.) Maltha's partners on the projectare Turkish companies, Umitsanat and Ozen Films.

"We're talking to an A-level director right now. He is very interested in doingit," Maltha commented. The mooted budget is "north of $20m."

Birds Without Wings is one of a number of films Maltha is developing throughhis company Fu Works as he becomes ever more active in production.

Anotherproject being fast tracked is The Silent Force, based on a classic Dutchnovel based in Indonesia.

OrlowSeunke, who runs the Jakarta Film Festival, will write and direct. Maltha alsorecently produced the documentary, One Way Ticket: Seoul To Amsterdam, aboutthe experiences of Korean emigres in the Netherlands.

OneWay Ticketwill screen later in the autumn at the Pusan Festival.
Intriguingly, Maltha also raised the possibility he may work again with PaulVerhoeven.

"I have been speaking to him about other projects but the best thingright now is to let Black Book follow its course.

AndI won't deny that working with Paul is very demanding. It takes a lot of yourenergy. I need a little holiday."

Black Book has been warmly received in Venice, where it was acclaimed byScreen as "rollicking, big budget entertainment."

Maltha confirmed that there have already been US offers on the film (soldinternationally by Content.) "My feeling is that it (the US deal) is going tohappen between now and Toronto. I am sure we will end up with a US distributorin time to do an Oscar-qualifying release."
Black Book has been chosen as Holland's foreign language Oscarcandidate.

Maltha also believes it has a chance of nominations in othercategories.

The film will have a royal premiere in the Hague on the 12thSeptember prior to its Dutch release through A-film on the 14th.

Black Book isgoing out in the Netherlands on around 100 prints. The gala premiere at theToronto Festival is held on Sept 13.