Scottish actor Iain Glen is to star in veteran Japanese director Masahiro Shinoda's final film project: the $15m thriller Spy Sorge.

The 71-year-old Shinoda has been trying for more than a decade to get backers for the film, which will require two months of filming in Shanghai and Berlin, as well as location shooting in 15 cities across Japan.

Spy Sorge will be shot entirely with HD24P digital cameras and use state-of-the-art CGI technology to recreate 1930s Tokyo.

Shinoda, the director of Sharaku (1994) and Owl's Castle (1999) has long been developing the story of Richard Sorge, a German who operated a spy ring that provided Japanese and German secrets to the Soviet Union during World War II. Sorge was arrested and executed by the Japanese in 1944.

The film's budget of $15m (Y2 billion), which is near the upper limit for the Japanese film industry, is backed by a consortium of eleven companies including Toho, Asmik Ace, Sega, TV Asahi, Imagica, Nihon Jyoho Tsushin Consulting, Hyogensha, Culture Publishers, Orbic, Kadokawa Books and Sammy.

Principal photography starts on April 6 and will continue in Japan, Shanghai and Berlin until late July. Completion is scheduled for February 2003, with Toho slated to distribute in Japan.