Japan's Shochiku is launching two animatedfilms from high-profile directors at Cannes, marking the first time it hasproducedtheatrical animations in-house.

The first film, The Country Doctor,is based on Franz Kafka's short prose of the same name and is being directed byKoji Yamamura who picked up an Oscar nomination for his short film Mr Head.

The second, Kappa No Kureta Okurimono,is based on the popular Kappa picture books written by Masao Kogure. It is beingdirected by Keiichi Hara, best known for the successful Crayon Shinchanfilm franchise and TV series which has been broadcast around the worldincluding Korea, Italy and Spain.

Both films will start production in June forrelease in Japan in 2007. "As planned we've accelerated the development ofanimated TV fare and are now poised to do the same with theatrical films," saidIchiro Seki, general manager of Shochiku's animation division.