After a production slowdown lasting 18 months, Japanese publicly-quoted movie powerhouse Shochiku is back in business, bringing to the AFM a new slate that includes a brace of high-profile Samurai epics.

The Japanese company is making a teaser available on Tasogare Seibei (working title), which is set to be the first full scale Samurai picture by acclaimed director Yamada Yoji, who was previously responsible for the Tora-san and School series of films. It stars Sanada Hiroyuki, from the Ring series, and actress Miyazawa Rie (Peony Pavilion).

Underway too is another big budget Samurai picture Mibu Gishi Den, by Takita Yojiro, director of The Yin Yang Master. It stars one of Japan's top actors Yakusho Koji, star of The Eel and Eureka.

"The restructuring is over. The hiatus in production is behind us and we have a full slate of pictures ahead of us," confirmed Koga Masaki, head of international distribution at Japan's Shochiku.

Among the already completed films Koga is handling at the AFM are some of the more popular titles at the market: These include Miike Takashi's The Happiness Of The Katakuris and Hur Jin-ho's Rotterdam competition film One Fine Spring Day.

"This autumn we will start to see the fruits of the financial restructuring and next year we should hit five to eight pictures. These will be a mixture of high quality art titles as well more entertainment-driven titles," said Koga.

For Cannes Shochiku is readying Tsukinoki Takashi's To Dance With The White Dog, a drama about a man who loses his wife and shortly after her death starts seeing a white dog that is invisible to everyone else around him. Shochiku is also handling Asian rights on Patrice Leconte's Laetitia Casta-starring Love Street (Rue Des Plaisirs) for which Pathe International has the rest of the world.