Thai director Ekachai Uekrongtham, whose debut Beautiful Boxer won the Grand Prix 2004Award at the Brussels International Film Festival, is readying two new projects for Thai studio GMM Grammy.

First up is Swords andSpirits, a martial arts adventure set in both Thailand and Japan in thelate 16th century as well as in the modern day. Written byUekrongtham, the film is about a Thai scholar and a Japanese novelist whoattempt to unravel the mystery of the 500 Samurai warriors stationed inThailand's ancient capital Ayutthaya over 300 years ago.

The main cast will consist of Japanese andKorean actors, together with BeautifulBoxer star Asanee Suwan, the real-life martial arts champion who was namedbest actor in the 2004 Thai 'Oscars', playing the leading role of the Thaischolar. Principal photography is due to start in mid-2005.

World sales of Swordsand Spirits will be handled by Arclight Films, which has sold Beautiful Boxer to nearly 30 countries.The film about the life of the transsexual kickboxer will open in the US onJanuary 21.

Uekrongtham isalso prepping an Australasian production entitled The Coffin. The supernatural thriller tells the bizarre events thathappen to a young man after he bought a coffin for himself on his birthday.

The story isinspired by traditional Thai customs of buying a coffin for oneself when one isstill alive to cheat death. Uekrongtham is developing the script with co-writerDesmond Sim whom he collaborated on BeautifulBoxer.