Comedian turned helmer launches film

ROME — The 64th Locarno Film Festival will fete Japanese comedy superstar Hitoshi Matsumoto, whose new pic “Scabbard Samurai,” will launch internationally from its 8,000 seat open-air Piazza Grande venue.

The Swiss fest dedicated to cutting-edge cinema, besides screening Matsumoto’s buzzed-about “Samurai,” will also celebrate the Japanese TV comic-turned-cult-helmer by unspooling his previous two directorial efforts: smash local hit “Big Man Japan” (2007), and “Symbol” (2009).

Locarno artistic director Olivier Pere praised Matsumoto for having “invented and experimented with new forms of comic fiction,” even in just three feature films by “shifting between burlesque, surrealism and popular genres.”

“Scabbard Samurai,” which stars newcomer Takaaki Nomi and Jun Kunimura (“Kill Bill: Vol. 1″) is produced by Yoshimoto Kogyo, Kyoraku Sangyo, and Phantom Film. Pic is set for theatrical release in Japan on June 11.

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