Pic stars Keitel, Skarsgard; helmed by Szabo

SYDNEY — Continuing a diversification of its product, Australian major Beyond Films has secured international sales rights, excluding the U.K. and French- and German-speaking Europe, to Harvey Keitel/Stellan Skarsgard starrer “Taking Sides” from Oscar-winning helmer Istvan Szabo (“Mephisto”).

Adapted by Oscar-nominated scribe Ronald Harwood (“The Dresser”) from his successful stage play, pic concerns an American officer’s role in de-Nazification hearings concerning German conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler in Berlin after the war. Pic starts shooting soon in Berlin and Dresden.

Thought to cost more than $12 million, pic is Beyond’s highest budgeted project ever. It will be produced by Germany’s MBP, Maecenas, Palladin, Studio Babelsberg and France’s Canal Plus.

Like many Oz companies that have suffered lately from a difficult sales environment for indie films, Beyond has forged strong links with German financiers — most notably MBP, with whom it’s partnering on Ray Lawrence’s Jan Chapman-produced “Lantana,” Bruce Beresford’s “Boswell for the Defence” and Ronny Yu’s “Revolver.” Likewise, rival outfit Becker Entertainment recently sealed a three-year production pact with Germany’s Fame subsid MBM.

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