X Filme joins 'Countess' court


Complete Berlinale coverage

BERLIN -- Berlin's X Filme International will produce Julie Delpy's new film "The Countess," a period piece in which the French actress will take on the roles of scriptwriter, director and star.

Delpy will play Countess Erzebet Bathory, a 16th century Slovakian royal that, according to legend, bathed in the blood of virgins to achieve eternal youth.

The film, which starts shooting Feb. 18 in Berlin, also stars William Hurt and Daniel Brühl. The supporting cast includes Maria Simon, Andre Hennicke, Anna Maria Muhe, Adriana Altaras, Sebastian Blomberg, Katrin Pollitt and Nikolai Kinski.

Cinematographer Martin Ruhe, who shot Anton Corbijn's Cannes breakout title "Control," will lens "Countess."

X Filme will release the picture in Germany in 2009. Celluloid Dreams will handle international sales duties at the European Film Market in Berlin.

Delpy's directorial debut, "2 Days in Paris," became a sleeper hit after its world premiere at the 2007 Berlin International Film Festival, generating more than $4 million at the U.S. boxoffice for Samuel Goldwyn Films.

In a separate move, X Filme's parent company, X Filme creative pool, signed an agreement to buy back the majority stake in the company held by Berlin's Senator Entertainment.

The two companies have been haggling over the 57% stake since Senator filed for insolvency in 2004 and was subsequently acquired by a private investor group led by Helge Sasse and Marco Weber.

X Filme head Stefan Ardnt said his company and Senator would now be "friendly competitors" on the German market. Senator, which is bowing the Julia Roberts starrer "Fireflies in the Garden" in Berlin on Sunday, recently has ramped up its German-language production unit.