Melanie Griffith has been cast to play the lead in Robert Allan Ackermann's provocative comedy Almost Japanese which is set to be backed by the Potsdam-based producer fund Vif International Films.

Shooting on the love story between a lonely and inept American teenager and a Japanese conductor (to be played by Kazuya Takahashi) is scheduled to begin at locations in Japan and Toronto from April 2002.

Director Ackermann came into the spotlight earlier this year with his TV mini-series Life With Judy Garland: Me And My Shadows which has been the most successful TV movie of the year having received 13 primetime Emmys.

The series was produced by the German media group IN-Motion via one of its World Media private media investment funds.

Almost Japanese's backer Vif International Films recently announced that it plans to co-produce Robert Richardson's $28m film noir thriller White Jazz, based on the James Ellroy novel, with Nick Nolte's production company Kingsgate Films, to star Nolte and John Cusack.