Steven Spielberg's untitledthriller set in the aftermath of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre has begunshooting in Malta, with stints to come in Hungary and New York City beforepost-production and delivery in time for a Dec 23 release date in the US.

The movie, scripted by TonyKushner, follows the secret Israeli squad assigned to track down andassassinate the 11 Palestinians believed to have planned the massacre of 11Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972.

Eric Bana stars as theMossad agent charged with leading the operation, with Daniel Craig, GeoffreyRush, Matthieu Kassovitz, Hanns Zischler and Ciaran Hinds also in the cast.

Kathleen Kennedy, BarryMendel, Spielberg and Colin Wilson are producing. Universal will handle theNorth American distribution of the film, with DreamWorks Pictures handlinginternational distribution.

A statementabout the film from Spielberg was released yesterday: "The attack atMunich by Black September and the Israeli response to it was a defining momentin the modern history of the Middle East. It's easy to look back at historicevents with the benefit of hindsight. What's not so easy is to try to seethings as they must have looked to people at the time. Viewing Israel'sresponse to Munich through the eyes of the men who were sent to avenge thattragedy adds a human dimension to a horrific episode that we usually thinkabout only in political or military terms. By experiencing how the implacableresolve of these men to succeed in their mission slowly gave way to troublingdoubts about what they were doing, I think we can learn something importantabout the tragic stand-off we find ourselves in today."