Ken Watanabe, Jessie Buckley Join 'Cottontail' (Exclusive)

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Ken Watanabe

The drama, from 'Philomena' producer Gabrielle Tana, is being introduced to buyers at the AFM by WestEnd Films.

Oscar nominee Ken Watanabe (Inception, Memoirs of a Geisha, The Last Samurai) is set to take the lead in upcoming drama Cottontail, with rising British star Jessie Buckley (Judy, Wild Rose) joining in a supporting role.

The drama, which is being introduced to buyers at the American Film Market by WestEnd Films, comes from Oscar-nominated Philomena producer Gabrielle Tana and writer/director Patrick Dickinson, who won the BAFTA/LA Student Film Award for his short Usagi-San.

Watanabe’s son Dai Watanabe (Recall, Samurai’s Promise) also stars in the film.

Described by the filmmakers as a "universal portrait of love, acceptance and family loss," Cottontail follows the journey of Kenzaburo (Ken Watanabe) who, after his wife Akiko passes away in Japan, travels with his estranged son Toshi (Dai Watanabe) to the Lake District in England, the land of Beatrix Potter, whose tales of Peter Rabbit captivated Akiko as a child. She had always hoped to travel there one day with Kenzaburo, and now he must fulfill her last wish and scatter her ashes among the natural beauty of the lakes.

Cottontail is billed as a moving and very human story of memory, family secrets and forgiveness. How do we help our loved ones as they face the end?

The film is co-produced by BAFTA-winning Scott Bassett (Against The Law, Murdered for Being Different) and Satch Watanabe (The Outsider). Crew members include director of photography Mark Wolf (Dancer, The Devil Outside), production designer Matthew Button (Loving Vincent) and art director Daniela Faggio (Loving Vincent).

Principal photography is set for fall 2020 in Japan and the U.K.

WestEnd's AFM slate also includes romantic comedy Falling for Figaro, starring Danielle Macdonald and Joanna Lumley; Israel’s Academy Award submission Incitement; Helen Reddy biopic I Am Woman, starring Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Danielle Macdonald and Evan Peters; psychological thriller Muscle; Noomi Rapace actioner Sylvia; Marc Forster's comedy The Cow, starring Ewan McGregor; horror film The Banishing with Jessica Brown Findlay and Sean Harris; The Smiths-infused drama Shoplifters of the World; the English-language remake of Icelandic film Rams; and Valley of Tears, from the creators of Euphoria and False Flag.