Japanese actor Koji Yakusho, who starred in 1996 hit Shall We Dance', is making his directorial debut with drama Gama No Abura (Toad Oil), in which he also stars.

Based on an original idea by Yakusho, the film tells the story of a father (Yakusho) whose son is seriously injured in a car accident, his relationship with the son's unknowing girlfriend and the son's juvenile delinquent friend whom the family takes in.

The film also features dream-like flashbacks to Yakusho's childhood, with a character who sells the titular toad oil, once a popular ointment in Japan.

The cast, hand-picked by Yakusho, includes Eita (Dororo) as the son, Satomi Kobayashi (Megane) as Yakusho's wife, and the screen debut of professional fighter Jun'ichi Sawayashiki. Principal photography began on May 18 with filming set to wrap on June 30.

Producer-distributor Phantom Film has slated for the film for a 2009 release and is aiming for a slot at next year's Cannes Film Festival. 'There was a lot of interest from the both the festival and buyers when we introduced the project in Cannes this year,' stated producer Keisuke Konishi. Yakusho previously starred in 1997 Palme d'Or winner The Eel and is a well-known figure on the Croisette.

Yakusho is perhaps best known for his role in Shall We Dance', which grossed almost $10m in the US as one of the most successful foreign-language releases ever. His credits also include high profile foreign titles Memoirs Of A Geisha, Babel and Silk. He's also been a long-time collaborator of director Kiyoshi Kurosawa, appearing in eight of his films.