Playworks to nuture pic talent

Helmer Iwai, Amuse team on project

TOKYO — Veteran indie helmer Shunji Iwai (“Love Letter,” “All About Lily Chou Chou”) has launched an initiative to nurture scriptwriters and other talent, with backing from the Amuse production house.

Called Playworks, the initiative will solicit scripts over the Internet. After selecting candidates, Iwai and his team will polish the chosen scripts, cast the actors, assemble the crew and otherwise shepherd the films to completion.

The first feature to come out of Playworks is “Niji no Megami” (Rainbow Song), a romantic drama based on a script submitted by Ami Sakurai. Starring are 18-year-old Hayato Ichihara, who appeared in Iwai’s 2001 hit “All About Lily Chou Chou,” and 19-year-old Juri Ueno, who shot to stardom in the 2004 musical “Swing Girls.” They play college students who meet and fall in love in the course of a student film shoot.

Director is Naoto Kumazawa, who also helmed 2005 dramedy “Letter From Nirai Kanai.”

Iwai has assembled the staff from a variety of sources, both industry and non-industry. Principal photography started April 25 and release is set for this fall through Toho.

“I’m glad production is finally under way,” Iwai said. “I’ve been running alone for the past 10 years — now for the first time I’m experiencing the joy of being in a relay race.”

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