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Kurosawa to direct Japan-China co-production starring Leung

Japanese film maker Kiyoshi Kurosawa will direct Hong Kong star Tony Leung Chiu-Wai in period action-drama 1905.

Details of the large scale Japan-China co-production were announced in Tokyo on Monday (Sep 10). Leung will co-star with Shota Matsuda (Hard Romanticker) and former AKB48 member Atsuko Maeda.

Set during the titular period, Leung will play a loan shark who must venture from Guangdong Province to Yokohama Japan to recover debts from a band of anti-Manchu government revolutionaries. While there he crosses paths with ultra-nationalist (Matsuda), who’s tasked with deporting the same men, and a young woman in a relationship with one of them (Maeda). 

1905 will commence production in November with plans to recreate the port of Yokohama as it was 100 years ago on location in Taiwan with additional shooting in Japan. 

Hong Kong-based Chinese film studio Sil-Metropole is a backer on the $10m project, which will raise funds through pre-sales to Asia and Europe. 1905 is slated for a fall 2013 release, co-distributed by Japan’s Shochiku and Prenom H.

1905 marks Kurosawa’s largest film to date and the first time the director will work extensively outside of Japan and in another language. Approximately 90% of the film will be in Cantonese and 10% in Japanese.

Tokyo-based independent producer-distributor Prenom H has been developing the project over the past several years as Leung’s first Japan-backed film. Prenom H has a long standing relationship with the actor since investing in and distributing Wong Kar-wai’s Happy Together in 1997. Prenom H’s Hiroko Shinohara and Toshiharu Kido will produce.

Leung commented on the role: “When I met Kiyoshi Kurosawa years ago I felt there was some kind of connection. I’ve always admired his films, so I’m thrilled to have the chance to work with him. I think this film will be a completely new experience for me, which I feel very excited about.”

Kurosawa’s early 2012 mini-series Penance recently screened out of competition in Venice last month in a cinema version and is currently showing at the Toronto international film festival. Aside from prizes in Cannes, Mar del Plata and Chicago, Kurosawa’s 2008 film Tokyo Sonata won best film and screenplay at the Asian Film Awards in Hong Kong.  

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