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Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor Board Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter as Executive Producers

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Rinko-Kikuchi-in-Kumiko,-The-Treasure-HunterStill riding high on the waves of his success following last year’s Nebraska, with early predictions set for at least a nod for Bruce Dern in tomorrow’s Oscar nominations, Alexander Payne has found his next project in Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter.

Directed by David Zellner, the drama is led by the Oscar-nominated Rinko Kikuchi (Babel, Pacific Rim), and will be making its debut at Sundance next week.

Deadline reports that Payne and his Oscar-winning frequent collaborator Jim Taylor (Sideways, About Schmidt) have boarded the film as executive producers ahead of its Sundance bow.

Kumiko lives in a cluttered, cramped apartment in Tokyo with her pet rabbit, Bunzo. She works as an office lady, robotically preparing tea and fetching dry cleaning for her nitpicky boss. But on her own time, she obsessively watches a well-known American film on a weathered VHS tape. Rewinding and fast-forwarding repeatedly, she meticulously maps out where a briefcase of castaway loot is buried within the fictional film. After hours of intense research—convinced that her destiny depends on finding the money—Kumiko heads to the United States and into the harsh Minnesota winter to search for it.

Zellner is returning to Sundance following his 2012 film, Kid-Thing, and this time around he’s directing from a script he co-wrote with his brother, Nathan Zellner.

The latter produced the film alongside Andrew Banks, Cameron Lamb, Chris Ohlson, and Ad Hominem partner Jim Burke. The project marks Ad Hominem’s fourth film, following The Savages, Cedar Rapids, and Payne’s own 2011 Oscar-winning film, The Descendants. All three films were released by Fox Searchlight, with whom the shingle has a first-look deal, so smart money says that Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter will bear the Searchlight banner sometime later this year.

With Payne and Taylor now boarding the project ahead of its bow next week, you could well predict that the film will be building momentum towards an awards campaign at the end of the year, and at the very least that it’s going to garner some strong numbers at the box office whenever it lands.

Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter will be premiering on January 20th for all those heading out to Park City, with a further four screenings at the festival. With any luck, we won’t have to wait too long before its arrival in cinemas, hopefully with a few more festival stop-offs, including Sundance London, along the way.