Sunday, January 4, 2009

Yoji Yamada set to begin shooting his 81st feature "Otouto"

by Chris MaGee

Yoji Yamada has had quite the high international profile over the past few years. The 77-year-old filmmaker had spent most of his career helming the famed Tora-san films, as well as "The Yellow Handkerchief" and "My Sons", that proved wildly popular in Japan but whose success never translated to the international market. Of course all that changed starting in 2002 with the release of "The Twilight Samurai". It ended up being nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 76th annual Academy Awards and was followed by two more samurai films "The Hidden Blade" (2004) and "Love and Honour" (2006). This loose "Samurai Trilogy" raised Yamada's profile around the world, and now with his last film "Kabei: My Mother" picking up nominations in all the major categories of this year's Japanese Academy Awards it looks like Yamada's career renaissance will continue.

According to Variety Asia Online Yamada is set to direct his 81st feature film titled "Otouto (Younger Brother" starting this month. The film, co-written by Emiko Hiramatsu who also worked with Yamada on "Love and Honour" and "Kabei: My Mother", will tell the story of a kindly and level-headed older sister and her sometimes rtocky relationship with her unconventional younger brother. In the roles of the sister and brother will be "Kabei" castmates Sayuri Yoshinaga and Tsurube Shofukutei with the remainder of the cast being rounded out by Yu Aoi, who will play Yoshinaga's daughter and Ryo Kase as the film's love interest.

Although the film is apparently set in the present day this looks to be a reworking of Kon Ichikawa's 1960 film of the same title, which also dealt with the relationship between an older and more responsible sister who must care for her younger brother who is ill with tuberculosis. Good news for Yamada and Ichikawa fans...

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