The film stars Korean actress Bae Doo-Na as an inflatable sex doll that comes to life and begins a relationship with its owner, an anti-social video store clerk. Bae previously starred in The Host and Nobuhiro Yamashita's Linda Linda Linda in 2004.
Japanese actor Arata (20th Century Boys, Ping Pong) co-stars as the clerk. Arata appeared in Kore-eda's second narrative feature, After Life (1998).
Kuuki Ningyo also stars Itsuji Itao, Masaya Takahashi, Kimiko Yo, Ryo Iwamatsu, Susumu Terajima and Joe Odagiri in supporting roles. The director of photography is Taiwan's Lee Pin Bing, a regular collaborator of Hou Hsiao-hsien.
Kuuki Ningyo is based on a manga by Yoshiie Goda published by Shogakukan in 2000. The project marks the first time since Kore-eda's 1995 narrative feature debut Maborosi that he has adapted someone else's writing. Goda's work was also adapted into 2007's Happily Ever After.
'I wanted to depict a doll with a heart that becomes human and at the same time a person with the emotional emptiness of a doll,' explained Kore-eda, who developed the project over eight years.
The film is scheduled for release this autumn by distributor Asmik Ace.
Kore-eda's most recent feature Still Walking is currently nominated for best director and best supporting actress at the upcoming Asian Film Awards (March 23) and won best film and the jury prize at Mar del Plata.