Germandirector Volker Schloendorff will be reunited withactor David Bennent, the child star of his 1979Oscar-winning film The Tin Drum (Die Blechtrommel) as Oskar Matzerath, for his next feature Ulzhan which begins shooting in Kazakhstan from September.

TheFrench-Kazakh co-production between Regis Ghezelbash'sFly Times Pictures and the Kazakh Film Studio is based on an originalscreenplay by French screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrierewith whom Schloendorff last worked in 1996 on The Ogre (Der Unhold).

Speakingexclusively to, Schloendorff described the film as 'a road movie ofBeckett-esque dimensions. It has a road movie'srandom kind of structure, but, as you would expect from Jean-Claude Carriere, it is very structured. It clearly has abeginning, a middle and an end!'

Thestory centres on a Frenchman (Philippe Torreton) whocomes to Kazakhstan and meets a beautifulKazakh nomad girl (played by local actress Ayanat)and a shaman (Bennent).

'TheFrenchman walks through this huge country in Central Asia in search of a sense tolife or, maybe, even death. Instead of that, he is brought back to life by anumber of - at times - grotesque and poetical episodes,' Schloendorff explained. 'The shaman David plays is amerchant of words, he collects and sells rare words and is concerned about thedying of languages as an endangered species.'

Drawinga large proportion of the crew from Kazakh Film, the $3.2m (Euros 2.5m)production will shoot 'from the oilfields on the Caspian Sea to the newBrasilia-like capital of Astana which is being built in the middle of nowherein the steppes and through to the Himalayas,' Schloendorff said.

Headded that the film will feature a mix of languages including Kazakh, French,Russian and German for Bennent's character.'There used to be 1.4m Germans living in Kazakhstan so David's figure ishalf descended from a shaman and half from a German mother.'

Bennent, who will turn 40 in September, has mainly workedon the German stage since coming to international prominence with The Tin Drum, although he did make anappearance in Poem: I Set My Foot Upon The Air And It Carried Me in 2003.

Ulzhan had previously been onthe back burner as Schloendorff was in preparationsfor the shooting of the big budget production of Pope Joan which is now likely to go into production in 2007.