Brendan Fraserhas been lined up to star in historical drama The Bitter Sea which Roger Spottiswoode is set todirect in China later this year.

The US$19mproject, also known as The Children Of Huang Shi, is based on the true story of Britishjournalist George Hogg who saved a group of children during the Japaneseinvasion of China in 1937. Faced with advancing Japanese troops, Hogg led thechildren on a 1000km trek to a safe haven in China's remote west.

The project wasdeveloped and is being produced by Oscar-winning Swiss producer Arthur Cohn andPalermo-based German producer Wieland Schulz-Keil. But in terms of nationality,it's been set up as a UK-Australia-China co-production between the UK's SarahRadclyffe Productions, Sydney-based Bluewater Pictures, founded by JonathanShteinman, and Peter Loehr's Ming Productions in Beijing.

Production isscheduled to start at the beginning of November and additional roles, includingan American woman who also travelled with the children, are currently being cast.Casting of the children - a group of about 60 - is underway in Singapore andBeijing.

While the UK andAustralia already have a co-production treaty, China is currently negotiatingagreements with both territories. Neither is expected to kick in before TheBitter Sea startsproduction, although the film will be covered by a Memorandum of Understandingbetween China and Australia.

Fraser, who wasrecently a guest at Shanghai International Film Festival, is also attached tostar in Eric Eason's Journey To The End Of Night, which is scheduled to start shooting inBrazil in September. Spottiswoode, whose credits include Tomorrow Never Dies and The Sixth Day, more recently directed comedy drama SpinningBoris and Mr Ripley'sReturn based on PatriciaHighsmith's novel Ripley Under Ground.