Young Adam director David Mackenzie has started shooting his new film, Asylum, which co-stars Ian McKellen and Natasha Richardson.

Based on a novel by David McGrath, Asylum was scripted by Patrick Marber and is set in a mental hospital for criminals. The picture focuses on a woman (Richardson) who moves with her husband to an asylum where he will work. McKellen plays the role of a psychiatrist.

Paramount Classics has North American rights to the film, which is being sold internationally by Seven Arts Signature International.

McKellen, who last week attended the Giffoni International Film Festival for Children (July 19-26), will shortly also be seen in Emile, which will receive its world premiere at the upcoming Toronto Film Festival, and as Gandalf in the third episode of The Lord Of The Rings trilogy.

In Giffoni, McKellen also spoke about the third episode of The Lord Of The Rings, which is scheduled for release in December.

"[Peter Jackson and those who have seen it] believe the third film to be the finest of the trilogy. They think it will help establish the trilogy as a classic," he said.