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by Brian Brooks
February 9, 2011 6:48 AM
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Focus and Universal will release "The Debt" for Miramax

Espionage thriller "The Debt," directed by Oscar nominee John Madden ("Shakespeare in Love"), will be distributed for Miramax by Focus Features and Universal Pictures International.

Focus will release "The Debt" in the U.S. nationwide August 31 and UPI will release the film internationally, the companies said Wednesday.

"The Debt" stars Academy Award winner Helen Mirren, Sam Worthington ("Avatar"), Jessica Chastain ("The Tree of Life"), Marton Csokas ("Dream House"), Jesper Christensen ("Quantum of Solace"), Ciaran Hinds ("Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day"), and two-time Academy Award nominee Tom Wilkinson. The screenplay, by Matthew Vaughn & Jane Goldman and Peter Straughan, is adapted from the 2007 Israeli film Ha-Hov. Producers are Vaughn and Kris Thykier through Marv Films, Eitan Evan, and Eduardo Rossof; Tarquin Pack is the film's executive producer.

The feature begins in 1997 when, according to a Focus description, "As shocking news reaches retired Mossad secret agents Rachel (Mirren) and Stefan (Wilkinson) about their former colleague David (Hinds). All three have been venerated for decades by their country because of the mission that they undertook back in 1966, when the trio (Chastain, Csokas and Worthington) tracked down Nazi war criminal Vogel (Christensen) in East Berlin. At great risk, and at considerable personal cost, the team's mission was accomplished - or was it? The suspense builds in and across two different time periods, with startling action and surprising revelations."

"We are very pleased to announce our partnership with Focus and UPI," said Miramax CEO Mike Lang in a statement. "'The Debt' continues Miramax's proud history of producing the highest-quality films, with the most respected talent and directors. We believe the film will be well-received by audiences worldwide, and it will be a powerful addition to the Miramax library."

Added Focus Features CEO James Schamus: "Given Focus' tradition of dramatic thrillers that unfold in exotic locations, 'The Debt' makes for a worthy addition to our 2011 release slate. The picture is taut with nail-biting tension, and spotlights powerful performances from its gifted cast. We are also excited to partner with Miramax and its new team."

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