Paul Verhoeven's longawaited WWII thriller Blackbook starts shooting this week (Aug 31)in The Hague in the Netherlands.

The Dutch/German/Englishlanguage production will shoot for 76 days in both The Hague and Germany'sStudio Babelsberg.

The $20m wartime thriller isthe most expensive pre-dominantly Dutch language production ever made and tellsthe story of a German Jewish girl (Dutch actress Carice van Houten) whonarrowly survives the war in Holland and shortly after the liberation tries tofind out who betrayed her family.

Blackbook is Verhoeven's first feature in six years and hisfirst European feature in more than two decades. The film is a renewedcollaboration between Verhoeven and his regular Dutch scriptwriter GerardSoeteman (Turkish Delight, Soldier of Orange, Flesh + Blood)."It is going to be a European feature in the grand manner of a Hollywoodproduction", said producer San Fu Maltha. "In America, a production of thismajor scale would have double costs and much more shooting days."

The international crewincludes, among others, director of photography Karl Walter Lindenlaub (IndependenceDay, Stargate), composer Anne Dudley (The Full Monty, AmericanHistory X), editor Humphrey Dixon (Wimbledon, Enemy at the Gates)and Dutch stunt coordinator Willem de Beukelaer (Too Fat Too Furious, Ocean'sTwelve).

Black book has been set up as a Dutch/German/UK co-productionbetween Fu Works, Hector Films (Netherlands), Motel Films (Netherlands), EgoliTossell Film (Germany), Studio Babelsberg (Germany), VIP Mediafonds (Germany)and Clockwork Pictures (UK).San Fu Maltha is producing through Fu Workswith producers Jens Meurer for Berlin based Egoli Tossell and Teun Hilte forLondon based Clockwork Pictures. Amsterdam based Jeroen Beker and Frans vanGestel produce for Motel Films.

The project is backed by theDutch Film Fund, CoBO Fund, AVRO broadcasting, Studio Babelsberg MotionPictures, Medienboard Berlin Brandenburg, FFA, Pro7/Sat1 and Eurimages.

The film's distributionrights have already been pre-sold to France and Switzerland (Pathe), Belgium(Alternative), Greece (Odeon), Turkey (Umut Sanat), UK (Tartan) and Italy(DNC). "It is absolutely unique for a mainly Dutch spoken feature to draw somuch attention in pre-sales", said Maltha. There is also interest from Americandistributors, but no deals have been closed yet.

The cast is led by Dutchfilm star Van Houten, Halina Reijn and Dutch actors Thom Hoffman, Peter Blokand Derek de Lint. The lead German parts are played by Sebastian Koch,Christian Berkel and Waldemar Kobus. Delivery is set for Autumn 2006.