'The Book Thief' Begins Shooting in Germany

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The novel, about a young girl living in Nazi Germany, spent 230 weeks on the New York Times' bestseller list.

Emily Watson, Sophie Nelisse and Geoffrey Rush star in the literary adaptation from "Downton Abbey" director Brian Percival.

COLOGNE -- The Book Thief, an adaptation of Markus Zusack's best-selling novel of the same name starring Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson, has begun shooting in Germany at Studio Babelsberg.

Brit director Brian Percival, whose credits include hit BBC period drama Downton Abbey, is helming the feature, which Fox 2000 Pictures is producing. The film will shoot on location in Berlin, in the eastern German city of Gorlitz and in the surrounding countryside.

Set in Germany during WWII, The Book Thief focuses on young Liesel, played by French actress Sophie Nelisse, who made her debut in Monsieur Lazhar (2011), a girl who finds solace from the horrors around her by stealing books and sharing them with others. All the while her adoptive parents (Rush and Watson) are sheltering a Jewish refugee under the stairs of her home.

First published in 2006, the novel by Australian-born Zusack spent some 230 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.

Karen Rosenfelt and Ken Blancato are producing The Book Thief with Redmond Morris as executive producer. The feature has been set up as a co-production with Studio Babelsberg, with Babelsberg's Charlie Woebcken, Christoph Fisser and Henning Molfenter receiving co-production credits.

Fox 2000 is set to bow The Book Thief in January next year with a Feb. 13 release in Germany, making the feature a near shoe-in for a gala slot at next year's Berlin Film Festival.

Studio Babelsberg is playing host to several high-profile productions at the moment, with George Clooney currently shooting his latest feature, The Monuments Men at the German studio and Wes Anderson deep into production on The Grand Budapest Hotel, a Babelsberg co-production.