EXCLUSIVE: Nebraska helmer Alexander Payne and his Sideways co-writer Jim Taylor are prospecting for indie gold with upcoming Sundance entry Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter, the latest film from Park City returner David Zellner (Goliath, Kid-Thing). Oscar-nominated Rinko Kikuchi (Babel, Pacific Rim, 47 Ronin) stars in the psychological adventure as a lonely Japanese woman who believes a pile of loot buried in the movie Fargo is real and sets out on a quest to Minnesota to find it. Zellner and brother Nathan scripted and also co-star in the film, which was inspired by the true story turned urban legend surrounding a Japanese office worker named Takako Konishi, who made headlines in 2001 and was the subject of 2003 docu This is a True Story. Kumiko is the Zellner Bros.’ follow-up to their 2012 film Kid-Thing, a Sundance/Berlin/SXSW title that also explored the disconnect between real life and fantasy machinations in the mind of a socially isolated female protagonist. Exec producers Payne and Taylor join Ad Hominem partner Jim Burke on the project, which Burke produced with Nathan Zellner, Cameron Lamb, Chris Ohlson, and Andrew Banks. This marks Ad Hominem’s fourth film following Tamara Jenkins’ The Savages (2007), Miguel Arteta’s Cedar Rapids (2011), and Payne’s own The Descendants (2011), which were all released by Fox Searchlight with whom Ad Hominem has a first-look deal. Kumiko premieres January 20 in competition in Park City where Submarine’s Josh Braun is repping sales.
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