French cinema icon Catherine Deneuve has begun filming in Japan of “Spirit World,” a fantasy-drama film directed by Singapore’s Eric Khoo.
Deneuve portrays a singer who dies suddenly while on tour in Japan. But her spirit lives on and she embarks on a journey to find humanity in the after-world.
The project was revealed by the city government of Takasaki, an ancient town on Honshu Island between Tokyo and Kyoto, where production began over the weekend. Work is expected to continue for 10 days, before moving to other locations.
“I’m happy that a movie starring Deneuve is filmed in Takasaki. I’d like to cooperate in the filming,” said city mayor, Tomioka Kenji.
The film is understood to be based on an original screenplay. It is structured as a three-way production involving companies from Singapore, Japan and France and with financial support from authorities in Singapore. The producers are understood to be in the process of attaching a sales agent and the film is expected to be completed in time for a 2025 release.
Deneuve has had a lengthy career with highlights including “Les Parapluies de Cherbourg” (“The Umbrellas of Cherbourg”), “Belle de Jour,” “Dancer in the Dark” and “Indochine.” She suffered a minor stroke in 2019, but has since resumed work, starring recently as Bernadette Chirac in “Bernadette” and in “Funny Birds,” which is executive produced by Martin Scorsese.
Khoo is a busy writer-producer-director whose directing career started in 1995 with “Mee Pok Man” and has continued with Cannes competition film “My Magic,” and Japanese-themed animation “Tatsumi.” Khoo, who controls the production company Zhao Wei Films, previously filmed parts of his 2019 movie “Kazoku no Recipe” (aka “Ramen Teh”) in Takasaki.
He is also producer on “Orang Ikan,” a WWII-set creature horror film directed by Indonesia’s Mike Wiluan which is currently in post-production. The picture, a co-production involving outfits from Singapore, Japan, Indonesia and the U.K., follows a Japanese soldier and a British prisoner of war who are stranded on a deserted island, but soon discover they are not alone.