The second feature from award winning Chinese director Zhu Wen - South Of The Clouds - is scheduled to start shooting in Tianjin in northern China next week, with backing from state-owned studio Century Hero Film Investment.

The US$363,000 (RMB3m) film, also scripted by Zhu, tells the story of a retired factory cadre who, against the wishes of his children, takes off for one last adventure in Yunnan province - a place he nearly moved to when he was young. Li Xue Jian, whose credits include Zhang Yimou's Happy Times and Chen Kaige's The Emperor And The Assassin, will play the old man, while Jin Zi, who featured in Zhu's first film, Seafood, will play his daughter.

Century Hero is overseeing production on the film along with Beijing-based production services outfit, China Film Assist, which is also handling post-production. The film is scheduled to shoot in Tianjin and Beijing Film Studio until the beginning of March when it will move to Yunnan province for a further 40 days of shooting.

Zhu came to international attention with his debut feature, Seafood (Haixian), which jointly won the top prize in the Cinema of the Present section at Venice in 2001. The film, which is handled internationally by Hong Kong-based Golden Network Asia, revolves around the complicated relationship between a prostitute and a policeman.

Century Hero - which launched two years ago with backing from state-owned conglomerate CITIC - is financing productions from several up-and-coming directors in addition to Zhu including Yang Chao and Zhang Yimou's long-time assistant director, Xie Dong. The company, which boasts Fifth Generation directors Tian Zhuangzhuang as head of production and Chen Kaige as art director, is 90% owned by CITIC with China Film Group holding the remaining equity.