Verhoeven opens ‘Book’

WWII thriller postponed last year after helmer's illness

Dutch helmer Paul Verhoeven has confirmed that his next movie will be the World War II thriller “Black Book,” which starts shooting mid-August.

German fund VIP Mediafonds came aboard earlier this week to complete the re-financing for the $20 million Dutch/German/British co-production. Pic was two weeks away from filming last year, but had to be postponed when Verhoeven fell ill.

ContentFilms Intl. is handling worldwide sales, with Tartan distributing the pic in the U.K., Pathe in France and A-Film in Benelux.

Verhoeven denied a conflicting report that he will begin shooting “The Winter Queen” for Seven Arts in September. He said that he is still committed to make that film, possibly as his next film after “Black Book,” but that the timing depends on casting.

“Black Book,” scripted by Verhoeven and his longtime collaborator Gerard Soeteman, is the story of a young Jewish woman who joins the Resistance and narrowly survives the war in Holland, but is falsely denounced as a traitor. Entangled in a web of someone else’s deceit, she sets out to discover who betrayed her.

The Dutch, German and English characters in the story will each speak in their native languages.

Verhoeven commented, “After making Dutch movies and American movies, this is the first time I am making what could be called a European movie.”

Cast includes Carice van Houten, Halina Reijn and Thom Hoffman from the Netherlands, and Sebastian Koch, Christian Berkel and Waldemar Kobus from Germany. The English cast will be confirmed shortly.

Shooting will take place in the Netherlands and at Studio Babelsberg. San Fu Malta of Fu Works/A-Film is the lead producer, alongside Jens Meurer for Berlin-based Egoli Tossell and Teun Hilte for London-based Clockwork Pictures.

Pic is backed by a slew of local funds, broadcasters and subsidy orgs, including the Netherlands Film Fund, CoBo Fund, AVRO, Studio Babelsberg Motion Pictures, Medienboard Berlin Brandenberg, Germany’s FFA, Pro7/Sat1 and Eurimages.

“It took me 15 years to solve the problems of the script, and two years to get the financing together,” Verhoeven commented.

VIP, which has backed numerous U.S. movies including “Monster” and “The Upside of Anger,” is the majority financier of “Black Book.”

“The VIP investment in ‘Black Book’s’ German-European co-production illustrates the important contribution that the media funds investments make to European and particularly the German film industry,” said VIP CEO Andreas Schmid.

Referring to the threat that new laws in Germany would effectively outlaw such funds, Schmid added, “It would be advantageous if the pending legislation in Germany took this into account.”

“The Winter Queen” is another project that Verhoeven has been developing for many years. Based on Boris Akunin’s Russian mystery about a global conspiracy, it’s being financed by Seven Arts and the U.K.’s Future Film, with a Russian partner yet to be announced.

Producers are Thomas Hedman and Alan Marshall (who produced Verhoeven’s “Starship Troopers,” “Showgirls” and “Basic Instinct”) with a screenplay by Verhoeven and Soeteman.

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