Film & TV News

Asian Filmmakers 101: Mamoru Hosoda and Shunji Iwai, special guests at this year’s Tokyo International Film Festival!

EASTERN cinema is bigger than ever today. But upon our last trip to a university, we noticed that almost ever film student we met wanted to be Christopher Nolan.

We surmised it to be due to lack of exposure, and will endeavour to point out some notable filmmakers from Asia over this series, just so people know what has been coming out in your neighbouring countries.

In our first installment, we’ve got Japan, as the 29th Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) is about to hit Roppongi Hills again!

This time round, taking centre stage will be directors Mamoru Hosoda and Shunji Iwai, both powerhouses in the world of animation. They follow in the footsteps of filmmakers Masato Harada, Takashi Shimizu and Hideo Nakata, some of the homegrown talents honoured in 2015.

Indicating a promising future for animated films, both will have their work featured at this year’s TIFF so get ready for one heck of a trippy time! Here’s the little bit we know about both of them and trailers of their work.


Mamoru Hosoda

This man has come a long way from when he used to study oil panting at Kanazawa College of Art.

We’re not joking — this guy was responsible for stuff you saw on TV, like the episodes of Yu Yu Hakusho, Slam Dunk, Dragonball and Sailor Moon. Calling the 90s generation, do any of these ring a bell?

His big break after finishing his education was becoming key animator and director at the famous Toei Animation Studios, that very company which came up with many of your favourite anime series.

He then ventured out with Madhouse for seven years, producing films such as The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006) and Summer Wars (2009) before starting his own establishment called Studio Chizu.

Since leaving the studio, he has made highly successful films.

These include The Boy and The Beast, the first ever animated film that was accepted into the San Sebastian Film Festival competition and the highest-grossing local film at the Japanese box office last year.

Needless to say it is no wonder critics have compared him to Hayao Miyazaki, founder of Studio Ghibli, as both are masters at imaginative narratives which entertain on a universal level.

If you want to get through his work, start with this neat list called Must Watch This Summer! 4 Japanese Animation Masterpieces by Mamoru Hosoda and learn more about him from Otaku USA‘s exclusive interview! Or drop by at this year’s TIFF, which will be featuring his major films in an Animation Focus segment called The World of Mamoru Hosoda.


Shunji IwaiShunji Iwai

This man on the other hand will be showcasing his films in the Japan Now section of TIFF as this year’s “Director in Focus”! The festival section has previously featured names such as Hirokazu Kore-eda, Shinya Tsukamo and Isao Yukisada.

Shunji Iwai began making commercials, music videos and TV dramas after graduating from Yokohama National University in 1987.

He launched to acclaim with his debut film Fireworks, Should We See It from the Side or the Bottom? (1993) which earned him the illustrious Directors Guild of Japan New Directors Award — an annual prize won by the likes of Kōhei Oguri, Junji Sakamoto and Takeshi Kitano.

He has since worked not only as sought-after director but as writer and producer on most of his own films, all to hone the “Iwai Aesthetic”.

Films like Love Letter (1995), All About Lily Chou-Chou (2001), Hana and Alice (2004) and Vampire (2012) only fortified his reputation as one of Japan’s top filmmakers.

TIFF Programming Advisor, Kohei Ando, mentions that Shunji is “a rare director who renders fable-like tales of contemporary Japanese youth and paints memory, time, space and society with his distinctive visual style.”

Most recently, his first full-length animation The Case of Hana and Alice (2015) made it all the way to Annecy Animation Festival, while his self-directed, self-produced and self-written effort Bride for Rip Van Winkle was released back in March.


Follow more news from the 29th Tokyo International Film Festival via their official website and keep an eye out for more Asian directors you need to know!

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