TOKYO — Japanese helmer Sion Sono, a festival favorite with “Cold Fish,” “Guilty of Romance” and “Himizu,” is working on a new pic, “Kibo no kuni” (The Land of Hope).

Set in Japan’s northern Tohoko region, devastated in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, pic will focus on three couples whose lives are torn apart by the disaster.

“The story depicts the bonds between husband and wife, between parent and child and between lovers,” Sono explained at a Thursday presser.

Shooting started on Jan. 13 and is skedded to wrap early February. A release date and distributor have not yet been decided.

Sono’s most recent pic, “Himizu,” was also set in the disaster zone following a post-March-11 rewrite by the helmer. It screened in competition in Venice, with its leads, Shota Sometani and Fumi Nikaido, sharing the Marcello Mastroianni Award for best young actor and actress.