Yoji Yamada set to film 'Otouto'

Veteran returns to family drama for his 81st picture

BANGKOK -- Veteran Japanese director Yoji Yamada will begin shooting the family drama "Otouto" in mid-January, with stars Tsurube Shofukutei as the "otouto" or younger brother and Sayuri Yoshinaga as his older sister.

Written by Yamada and Emiko Hiramatsu and produced by Hiroshi Fukasawa and Kenichi Tamura, "Otouto" -- Yamada's 81st film -- will be distributed by Shochiku in Japan in early 2010, the company said Monday.

The team of Yamada, Shofukutei and Yoshinaga drew 12 nominations at the Japanese Academy Awards this year for "Kabei -- Our Mother," including best film, director and leading actress.

"I had already imagined during the shooting of 'Kabei -- Our Mother,' how fun and interesting it would be to bring back Sayuri Yoshinaga and Tsurube Shofukutei together and have them work on another role bringing out all that they have," Yamada said in a statement.

With "Otouto," Yamada -- who is best known in outside Japan in recent years for his 2004 Academy Award nominee "The Twilight Samurai" and 2008 Berlinale premiere "Kabei" -- returns to modern drama for the first time in 10 years.

"Otouto" also will star Yu Aoi as Yoshinaga's daughter and Ryo Kase ("Letters From Iwo Jima") as her love interest.