Chen Kaige, the legendary "Fifth Generation" Chinese film-maker, will finally make his English-language film debut directing US starlet Heather Graham in a London-set erotic thriller called Killing Me Softly. The movie is being produced by Tom Pollock and Ivan Reitman's Montecito Film Co.

Kirk D'Amico's Myriad Pictures is representing international rights to the film at Cannes, domestic distribution is as yet unsigned.

While none of the principals could be reached for comment, the project is already creating a buzz on the Croisette, where this time last year, Miramax Films announced that Kaige would direct a movie based on Martin Cruz-Smith's historical novel Rose - a film that has yet to get off the ground.

Shooting will begin on the film in the UK in October. Kara Lindstrom has written the screenplay based on Nicci French's bestseller Killing Me Softly: A Tale Of Obssession. Graham's character has been changed from a young British into a young American woman living in London - a research scientist living happily with her boyfriend who embarks on an obssessive sexual relationship with a mysterious stranger with a murky past.

Monecito's raunchy teen comedy Road Trip opens through DreamWorks SKG this weekend in North America and is expected to be a sleeper hit along the lines of American Pie. Montecito struck a deal with DreamWorks last year after settling out of its partnership with PolyGram Filmed Entertainment, although DreamWorks is not involved in Killing Me Softly.

Kaige is the director of Farewell My Concubine, Life On A String, Yellow Earth and The Emperor And The Assasin. Graham will next be seen in Ed Burns' Sidewalks Of New York and The Farrelly Brothers' Say It Isn't So.

Kaige is represented in the US by International Creative Management (ICM).