EXCLUSIVE: Fukushima-themed sci-fi drama likely to be French co-production.

Japanese director Koji Fukada, whose Au revoir l’ete premiered in Tokyo competition last month and made its international premiere at Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival, has recruited veteran producer Kazuyoshi Okuyama [pictured] for his next project, Sayonara, based on an android theatre play of the same title.

Au revoir l’ete recently won the Montgolfière d’or and the Prix de jury jeune at the Festival des 3 Continents Nantes. Fukada’s award-winning Hospitalite also attracted attention at festivals such as New York, Rotterdam and Tokyo.

Speaking to ScreenDaily in Tallinn, where Au revoir l’ete is playing in the EurAsia competition, the director said his next project, Sayonara, will be produced by the former Shochiku main producer Kazuyoshi Okuyama, whose credits include Takeshi Kitano’s Sonatine and recent Hitoshi Matsumoto comedy R100.

“His production company Team Okuyama will produce and we’re working on a deal to make it a co-production with France,“ said the director.

The project will star Hospitalite lead Bryerly Long, an American actress based in Japan who has played the lead role in the short theatre version of Sayonara.

“In the play, the girl is about to die shortly and the android and she talk about death. I was inspired by the Fukushima nuclear plant accident. When I make the film, I’d like to depict the android and the girl talking about life and death. Bryerly’s character is a kind of immigrant coming from another country to Japan. A nuclear accident has hit so most of the people need to escape Japan, but as an immigrant she has to wait for the Japanese to be evacuated first. So she becomes a refugee, and the android and the woman talk,” says Fukada.

“In sci-fi, we would see that kind of accidents and corruption in stories but in Japan, the nuclear accident happened for real and that kind of thing has been happening easily,” he added.

Budgeted at $978,000 (¥100m), the team plans to start shooting in June 2014.

The script is completed and the project is on Indiegogo for crowdfunding.