Indian-born filmmaker Udayan Prasad will direct and William Hurt and Maria Bello star in producer Arthur Cohn's remake of Japanese classic The Yellow Handkerchief, it was announced today at a press conference in Tokyo.

The $15.5m remake moves the story's locale from Hokkaido to Louisiana in the late 1940s. Production is scheduled to start on March 22 for an eight-week shoot on location in Louisiana. Post-production is expected to wrap in October, with a tentative spring 2009 world premiere in Japan. Funding came from four private investors, three from Switzerland and one from Austria.

Prasad is a well-known film and TV director in the UK whose credits include My Son The Fanatic and Opa! Chris Menges (Notes On A Scandal, The Mission) will serve as cinematographer. Relative newcomers Eddie Redmayne (The Good Shepherd) and Kristen Stewart (Panic Room) round out the cast.

Japanese major Shochiku, which produced the original film directed by Yoji Yamada, struck the remake deal with Cohn four years ago (he has since worked on the script for three years) after several failed attempts over the past 16 years to remake the film with various US companies and directors, including Wayne Wang.

'I was relieved and very pleased when Arthur Cohn joined the project. It's a fantastic cast and I'm sure it will be a great film,' said Yamada at the press conference in Tokyo 's Ginza district.

Inspired by the song 'Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree', a short story by Peter Hamill as well as Yamada's own Tora-san series, the original version was released in 1977, starring Ken Takakura, Chieko Baisho and a young Kaori Momoi. A much-loved film in Japan, it won best picture at the inaugural edition of Japan 's Academy Awards.

The story follows an ex-convict as he's released from prison and journeys on the road back to the wife he left behind, meeting two teenagers during his travels.

Cohn spoke of his admiration for the original film and aspirations for the remake: 'Yoji Yamada is one of the greatest directors today. The Yellow Handkerchief is a very emotional film, as well as a personal and romantic one and I think everyone in the world can identify with the lead character I believe the remake has all the elements to reach audiences worldwide.'

Cohn's first Asian production, The Children Of Huang Shi, is currently shooting in China under director Roger Spottiswoode and starring Chow Yun-fat, Michelle Yeoh and Jonathan Rhys-Meyers.