Sunday, May 10, 2009

Buzz growing fast for "Departures" screenwriter's next film "Snow Prince"

by Chris MaGee

Kundo Koyama has had quite the ride in the past year. The 44-year-old screenwriter, whose only previous major writing credit was for the Japanese cooking/ game show "Iron Chef", shot to fame for his adaptation of Shinmon Aoki's 1996 memoir "Noukanfu Nikki". That book chronicled Aoki's decade long career as a noukanshi, or "encoffining master", a person whose job it is to prepare the body of the deceased before being laid in their coffin. Koyama's script "Departures" was directed for the big screen by Yojiro Takita and ended up winning award after award, both at home in Japan and abroad including the Best Foreign Language Film Award at the 81st Academy Awards in February. It goes without saying that people are now waiting for the next "Departures" and it looks the believe that Koyama himself will be delivering it with his next screenplay for the film "Snow Prince: Kinjirareta Koi no Melody."

The original screenplay tells the story of a young boy living in a village in the 1930's who is orphaned. Shochiku, the studio that brought us "Departures", has tagged director Joji Matsuoka (Tokyo Tower: Mom and Me, and Sometimes Dad) to helm "Snow Prince" and 11-year-old actor Shintaro Morimoto will play the lead role. The remainder of the cast will be rounded out by such heavy hitters as Teruyuki Kagawa, Rei Dan, Maiko, Katsuo Nakamura, and Tadanobu Asano.

Even though we're still over six months away from the film's Japanese theatrical release distributors from 17 countries are already vying for domestic distribution rights. All I can say is I hope that it must be crazy for Koyama right now to have all these expectations heaped onto his original script.

Thanks to Tokyograph for the details on this story. You can check out the official site for "Snow Prince" here.


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Jason Gray said...

It's a bit confusing but Shochiku handled distribution/int'l sales of Departures but TBS produced the film.

Also, Koyama is a pretty prolific author of books, teleplays, lyrics etc. He was hired to write Departures but the whole concept started with Motoki and then the producers. Takita made quite a few changes.