On the eve of thisyear's Toronto Festival, UK sales agent The Works has closed a deal with Japanfor Alexander Sokurov's The Sun, his film about Emperor Hirohito's last days of power beforeJapan's surrender to the US in 1945.

Kabocha hastaken Japanese rights to The Sun and will be giving it a theatrical release either later this yearor early in 2006.

Following thefilm's premiere in Berlin in February, some had suggested that The Sun would prove too sensitive to show incinemas to Japanese audiences. 'To entertain a Russian interloper's visionof what is still regarded domestically as a spiritual ancestor to Shinto godsis anathema,' said one well-placed observer of the film, which offers avery intimate and not altogether flattering portrait of Hirohito, a figurestill regarded as something of a saint by the Japanese right.

The Works' JoyWong told Screen thatthere was enormous interest in the film from all Japanese distributors, butacknowledged that the larger, 'more corporate' companies ultimatelyshied away from a project with so much potential for controversy.

'We aredelighted to be working with Kabocha on The Sun. This deal is particularly significantgiven the film's subject matter', Wong said. 'We felt it essentialthat this important film be released and placed with the distributor who feltpassionate about the film and Kabocha is that distributor.'