Guide to Asian Cinema (directors)by ChristofBronner | created - 28 May 2014 | updated - 1 month ago | Public
I'm not going to pretend that this list is complete. There is so much stuff out there that I haven't seen yet. This is more of a beginner's guide for anyone interested to delve deeper into Asian cinema. Recommendations for Asian directors and films that I should check out are always welcome.
A few words about the countries represented on this list.
China: has a state-controlled studio system with censorship producing lots of propagandistic and patriotic films made by directors who prefer to "play it safe". This list however concentrates on directors who work outside of this studio system, thus taking the risk of having their films banned or getting a ban on making films (e.g. Tian Zhuangzhuang who received a 10-year ban). The directors of the so-called Fifth Generation were famous for their art films and humanist dramas which they made during the late 80s/early 90s. These films, similiar to what Kurosawa's film Rashomon did for Japanese cinema in the 1950s, brought Chinese cinema to the attention of arthouse audiences in the West. Sadly most of these directors have moved into the mainstream now. Luckily new directors (Sixth Generation & New Documentary Movement) have emerged who are keeping the spirit of the Fifth Generation alive.
Hong Kong: best known for its stylish genre and action films, especially Kung fu, Wuxia and Heroic Bloodshed. Hong Kong cinema had a huge influence on modern Hollywood action films. Wuxia: subgenre of martial arts films, known for its use of wires to achieve highly stylized fight scenes which defy the laws of gravity, contains elements of fantasy and adventure, set in ancient China Heroic Bloodshed: subgenre of action films, known for its highly stylized gun fights with frequent use of slow motion, making the fights appear almost ballet-like and graceful, common themes are brotherhood, loyalty and honour, doesn't shy away from using melodrama and pathos
India: dominated by Bollywood (Hindi-language films) and the film genre Masala. Luckily for lovers of art cinema, there is a small opposition called Parallel Cinema. Masala: epic films that mix elements of action, comedy, romance and melodrama with LOTS of singing and dancing. Parallel Cinema: Indian art cinema, alternative to mainstream Indian cinema
Japan: one of the oldest and largest film industries in the world. I won't even try to categorize Japanese cinema. The sheer amount of diversity Japanese cinema has to offer is ridiculous. They produce pretty much everything and anything you can think of. Let's just say Japanese cinema is God. As you can see I'm biased towards Japanese cinema. It's probably my favorite film nation. So, it shouldn't come as a surprise that this list is heavily dominated by Japanese filmmakers. But I'm trying to expand my knowledge of other Asian film nations as well.
South Korea: is, similar to Hong Kong, known for its excellent genre films. While Hong Kong cinema excels in action films, the expertise of South Korean cinema lies in Crime-Thrillers and Revenge films. South Korea has also its fair share of arthouse directors (Kim Ki-duk, Lee Chang-dong and Hong Sang-soo).
Taiwan: mostly known for its art cinema. While these films have no mainstream appeal whatsoever and aren't commercially successful, they are huge critical darlings and frequently shown on film festivals.
Thailand: similar to Taiwan known internationally for its art cinema. Prachya Pinkaew popularised with his films Muay Thai martial arts films.
PS: Since some people told me they would prefer a list that lists all the films instead of directors I made this alternative list: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls013366188/
1. Yimou Zhang
Director | Ying xiong
Fifth Generation, early films: humanist dramas, later films: Wuxia
recommended films: Raise the Red Lantern (1991) To Live (1994, banned in China) Hero (2002) Ju Dou (1990)
recommended film: Kaili Blues (2015) Long Day's Journey Into Night (2018)
3. Bo Hu
Director | Da xiang xi di er zuo
Born in Jinan, Shangdong, China, He studied Film Directing at the Beijing Film Academy. Following two short films and several novels, An Elephant Sitting Still was his first feature-length film. This is a four-hour portrait of a society of egoists. Tragically, it will also be the final chapter in ...
recommended film: An Elephant Sitting Still (2018)
4. Bing Wang
Director | Jiabiangou
New Documentary Movement, Direct Cinema
recommended films: Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks (2003) 'Til Madness Do Us Part (2013)
5. Jiayin Liu
Director | Niu pi
Docudrama, New Documentary Movement
Oxhide (2005) Oxhide II (2009)
6. Kaige Chen
Director | Ba wang bie ji
Kaige Chen was born on August 12, 1952 in Beijing, China. He is a director and writer, known for Farewell My Concubine (1993), Yellow Earth (1984) and Together with You (2002). He has been married to Hong Chen since 1996. They have two children.
historical dramas, Fifth Generation
Farewell My Concubine (1993) Yellow Earth (1984)
Spring in a Small Town (1948)
8. Wen Jiang
Actor | Rogue One
Wen Jiang was born on January 5, 1963 in Tangshan, China. He is an actor and director, known for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016), Devils on the Doorstep (2000) and Hidden Man (2018). He has been married to Yun Zhou since 2005. They have two children. He was previously married to Sandrine ...
Devils on the Doorstep (2000, banned in China) In the Heat of the Sun (1994)
9. Wenguang Wu
Director | 1966, wo de Hongweibing shidai
Cinéma vérité, New Documentary Movement
Fück Cinema (2005) Bumming in Beijing (1990)
10. Xiaoshuai Wang
Director | Di jiu tian chang
Wang Xiaoshuai (Director, Writer, Producer)
Wang Xiaoshuai is one of very few masters who remains true to his art in spite of rampant commercialism in the Chinese film market. Evoking the trauma of ordinary Chinese people caught in extraordinary times, his works span different eras, yet consistently...
Beijing Bicycle (2001, banned in China) Shanghai Dreams (2005)
12. Zhangke Jia
Director | Tian zhu ding
Zhangke Jia was born on May 24, 1970 in Fenyang, Shanxi, China. He is a director and producer, known for A Touch of Sin (2013), Mountains May Depart (2015) and Ash Is Purest White (2018). He has been married to Tao Zhao since January 7, 2012.
Arthouse, Sixth Generation
Platform (2000) Still Life (2006)
Director | Lan feng zheng
Tian is a former cameraman and graduate of the Beijing Film Academy. Due to controvery caused by some of his films, post-production on The Blue Kite (1993) had to be completed outside his homeland China.
The Blue Kite (1994, banned in China) The Horse Thief (1986, banned in China)
14. Fruit Chan
Handover Trilogy: Made in Hong Kong (1997) The Longest Summer (1998) Little Cheung (1999)
15. Jackie Chan
Actor | Ngo si seoi
Hong Kong's cheeky, lovable and best known film star, Jackie Chan endured many years of long, hard work and multiple injuries to establish international success after his start in Hong Kong's manic martial arts cinema industry.
Jackie was born Kong-sang Chan on April 7, 1954, on Hong Kong's famous ...
Action, Martial Arts, Comedy
Police Story (1985) Drunken Master (1978, directed by Yuen Woo-Ping) Project A (1983)
16. Cheh Chang
Director | Bao chou
Chang Cheh was the leading Martial Arts director in Hong Kong in the 1970s, now with close to 100 films to his name. His has influenced other directors such as John Woo and Liu Chiau Liang, and made famous such Hong Kong stars as Phillip Chung-Fung Kwok, Fu Sheng and Lung Ti. Chang has declared ...
Kung Fu, Wuxia
Five Deadly Venoms (1978) The One-Armed Swordsman (1967) Crippled Avengers (1978)
17. Siu-Tung Ching
Stunts | Ying xiong
A Chinese Ghost Story (1987) Duel to Death (1983)
18. Hark Tsui
Producer | Wong Fei Hung
Tsui Hark recently became the fourth Chinese film director to join the board of judges for the 57th Cannes Film Festival in the feature films category this year.
An internationally acclaimed visionary director, Hark started making experimental movies with 8mm film when he was only 13. After ...
Once Upon a Time in China (1991) Peking Opera Blues (1986)
19. Ann Hui
Director | Nu ren si shi
Born in China in 1947, Ann Hui moved to Hong Kong when she was still in her youth. After graduating in English and Comparative Literature from Hong Kong University, she spent two years at the London Film School. Returning to Hong Kong, she worked as an assistant to director King Hu before joining ...
A Simple Life (2011) Boat People (1982)
20. Chang-hwa Jeong
Director | Yuhokui geori
Chang-hwa Jeong received the third Star Asia Lifetime Achievement Award at the screening of his film King Boxer (Five Fingers of Death) at the New York Asian Film Festival on Saturday, June 30, 2012.
Five Fingers of Death (1972)
Kung fu splatter
Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky (1991, cult film)
22. Ringo Lam
Director | Go do gaai bei
Ringo Lam was born in 1955 in Hong Kong as Lin Lingdong. He was a director and writer, known for Full Alert (1997), City on Fire (1987) and Wild City (2015). He died on December 29, 2018 in Hong Kong.
Action, Heroic Bloodshed
City on Fire (1987) Prison on Fire (1987)
23. Andrew Lau
Cinematographer | Mou gaan dou
Andrew Lau Wai-Keung was born in Hong Kong in 1960, and has been fond of photography as a child. He joined Shaw Brothers (HK) Ltd. after secondary school graduation. The first film he participated in as a semi-skilled worker in cinematography was Legendary Weapons of China directed by Chia-Liang Liu...
& Alan Mak
Infernal Affairs (2002, remade by Martin Scorsese as The Departed) Infernal Affairs 2 (2003)
24. Bruce Lee
Actor | Meng long guo jiang
Bruce Lee remains the greatest icon of martial arts cinema and a key figure of modern popular media. Had it not been for Bruce Lee and his movies in the early 1970s, it's arguable whether or not the martial arts film genre would have ever penetrated and influenced mainstream North American and ...
Action, Martial Arts
Fist of Fury (1972, directed by Lo Wei) The Way of the Dragon (1972)
25. Chia-Liang Liu
Actor | Jui kuen II
Chia-Liang Liu was born on August 1, 1936 in Guangzhou, Guangdong, China. He is known for his work on Drunken Master II (1994), Legendary Weapons of China (1982) and My Young Auntie (1981). He was married to Jing-Jing Yung and Hsiu-Hsia Ho. He died on June 25, 2013 in Hong Kong, China.
aka Lau Kar-leung
Kung fu films
The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1978) Eight Diagram Pole Fighter (1984) The Legend of Drunken Master (1994)
26. Johnnie To
Producer | Cheung foh
With over thirty directing and producing credits to his name, Johnnie To enjoyed international breakthroughs with Election (2005), Election 2 (2006) (aka "Triad Election") and Exiled (2006); those films enjoyed multiple international film festival appearances and were separately sold to more than ...
Gangster Film, Action, Crime
The Mission (1999) Election (2005) & Election 2 (2006)
27. Kar-Wai Wong
Writer | Yi dai zong shi
Wong Kar-wai (born 17 July 1956) is a Hong Kong Second Wave filmmaker, internationally renowned as an auteur for his visually unique, highly stylised, emotionally resonant work, including Ah fei zing zyun (1990), Dung che sai duk (1994), Chung Hing sam lam (1994), Do lok tin si (1995), Chun gwong ...
Chungking Express (1994) In the Mood for Love (2000) Fallen Angels (1995) Happy Together (1997)
28. John Woo
Director | Ying hung boon sik
Born in southern China, John Woo grew up in Hong Kong, where he began his film career as an assistant director in 1969, working for Shaw Brothers Studios. He directed his first feature in 1973 and has been a prolific director ever since, working in a wide variety of genres before A Better Tomorrow ...
Action, Heroic Bloodshed
The Killer (1989) Hard Boiled (1992) A Better Tomorrow (1986)
29. Woo-Ping Yuen
Kung fu films, fight choreographer for Matrix & Kill Bill
Drunken Master (1978) Iron Monkey (1993)
30. Guru Dutt
Actor | Pyaasa
Considered to be a man ahead of his time, Guru Dutt was one of the greatest icons of commercial Indian cinema. Although he made less than fifty films, they are believed to be the best to come from Bollywood's Golden Age, known both for their ability to reach out to the common man and for their ...
Pyaasa (1957) Paper Flowers (1959)
31. Ritwik Ghatak
Director | Meghe Dhaka Tara
Ritwik Ghatak was born on November 4, 1925 in Dacca, Bengal Presidency, British India as Ritwik Kumar Ghatak. He was a director and writer, known for The Cloud-Capped Star (1960), Madhumati (1958) and Reason, Debate and a Story (1974). He was married to Surama Ghatak. He died on February 6, 1976 in...
The Cloud-Capped Star (1960) The Golden Thread (1965)
Writer | Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India
His passion for cinema immediately draws your attention, making you realize that Ashutosh Gowariker would not have been anywhere except behind the camera, however tempting the choice. An actor who took to film direction after almost a decade in front of the camera, Ashutosh has acted in Hindi films...
Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India (2001) Jodhaa Akbar (2008)
33. Rajkumar Hirani
Writer | PK
3 Idiots (2009) Lage Raho Munna Bhai (2006)
34. Raj Kapoor
Producer | Prem Rog
Raj Kapoor was the son of well-known Indian actor Prithviraj Kapoor, who acted both in film and on stage. After apprenticing in the Bollywood production studios of the 1940's, at 24 years of age Raj Kapoor produced, directed and acted in Aag (1948), with his new company, RK Films. His next ...
Awaara (1951) Shree 420 (1955)
35. Mani Kaul
Director | Duvidha
Mani Kaul was born on December 25, 1944 in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India. He was a director and writer, known for Duvidha (1973), Naukar Ki Kameez (1999) and Uski Roti (1970). He died on July 6, 2011 in New Delhi, India.
Our Daily Bread (1970) Duvidha (1973)
36. Mira Nair
Director | Monsoon Wedding
Accomplished Film Director/Writer/Producer Mira Nair was born in India and educated at Delhi University and at Harvard. She began her film career as an actor and then turned to directing award-winning documentaries, including So Far From India and India Cabaret. Her debut feature film, Salaam ...
Salaam Bombay! (1988) Monsoon Wedding (2001)
37. Satyajit Ray
Writer | Pather Panchali
Satyajit Ray was born in Calcutta on May 2, 1921. His father, Late Sukumar Ray was an eminent poet and writer in the history of Bengali literature. In 1940, after receiving his degree in science and economics from Calcutta University, he attended Tagore's Viswa-Bharati University. His first movie ...
Pather Panchali (1955) The Unvanquished (1956) The World of Apu (1959) The Music Room (1958) Charulata (1964) The Big City (1963)
38. Ramesh Sippy
Director | Sholay
Ramesh Sippy was born on January 23, 1947 in Karachi, Sind Province, British India as Ramesh Gopaldas Sipahimalani. He is a director and producer, known for Sholay (1975), Saagar (1985) and Shaan (1980). He is married to Kiran Juneja.
Haibane Renmei (2002, Mini-Series) Serial Experiments Lain (1998, Mini-Series) (character designer)
40. Hideaki Anno
Director | Shin Gojira
Hideaki Anno was born on May 22, 1960 in Ube, Yamaguchi, Japan. He is known for his work on Shin Godzilla (2016), The Wind Rises (2013) and Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone (2007). He has been married to Moyoco Anno since March 26, 2002.
Neon Genesis Evangelion (TV Series, 1995-96) Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion (1997) Ritual (2000)
41. Shinji Aoyama
Director | Yurîka
A director known for the thematic and visual bleakness of his work, Aoyama often sets his films in the Kyushu region from which he hails. He graduated from Rikkyo University and became known in 1996, but it was Eureka in 2000, which won him prizes at the Cannes Film Festival. Aoyama would continue ...
Eureka (2000) My God, My God, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me? (2005)
42. Toshiya Fujita
Director | Kaerazaru hibi
Toshiya Fujita was born on January 16, 1932 in Pyongyang, Korea. Following graduation from Tokyo University Fujita joined the Nikkatsu studio in 1955. Toshiya initially worked at Nikkatsu as a publicist, screenwriter, and assistant director prior to directing his first film in 1967. His debut ...
Lady Snowblood (1973)
43. Kinji Fukasaku
Director | Batoru rowaiaru
Kinji Fukasaku was born on July 3, 1930 in Mito, Japan. He was a director and writer, known for Battle Royale (2000), Fall Guy (1982) and Crest of Betrayal (1994). He was married to Sanae Nakahara. He died on January 12, 2003 in Tokyo, Japan.
Yakuza film, Action
Battle Royale (2000) Battles Without Honor and Humanity (series of five films, 1973-74)
Rurouni Kenshin: Trust & Betrayal (1999, video)
45. Hideo Gosha
Director | Goyôkin
Three Outlaw Samurai (1964) The Wolves (1971) Goyokin (1969)
46. Kazuo Hara
Director | Yuki yukite, shingun
Cinéma vérité documentaries
The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On (1987) Sayonara CP (1972)
47. Ishirô Honda
Director | Gojira
Influential Japanese film director born May 7th, 1911, often credited as being the father of Godzilla. His name is a combination of "I" (or Ino), meaning "boar" and "shirô," meaning fourth boy in the family. Originally, the young Honda had aspirations of becoming an artist. However, as he moved ...
Giant monster films
Godzilla (1954) Godzilla vs. Mothra (1964)
48. Mamoru Hosoda
Director | Toki o kakeru shôjo
Mamoru Hosoda is a Japanese film director and animator. Formerly employed at Toei Animation, he went to work at Madhouse from 2005 to 2011. Hosoda left Madhouse in 2011 to establish his own animation studio, Studio Chizu. He first came to public attention in the early 2000s with the first two films...
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006) Wolf Children (2012)
49. Kon Ichikawa
Director | Inugami-ke no ichizoku
Kon Ichikawa has been influenced by artists as diverse as Walt Disney and Jean Renoir, and his films cover a wide spectrum of moods, from the comic to the overwhelmingly ironic and even the perverse. Ichikawa began his career as a cartoonist, and this influence is apparent in his skillful use of ...
The Burmese Harp (1956) Fires on the Plain (1959) An Actor's Revenge (1963)
50. Shôhei Imamura
Director | Kuroi ame
Shohei Imamura's films dig beneath the surface of Japanese society to reveal a wellspring of sensual, often irrational, energy that lies beneath. Along with his colleagues Nagisa Ôshima and Masahiro Shinoda, Imamura began his serious directorial career as a member of the New Wave movement in Japan....
Japanese New Wave
Profound Desires of the Gods (1968) Vengeance is Mine (1979) Black Rain (1989) The Ballad of Narayama (1983) The Insect Woman (1963) The Pornographers (1966)
51. Tatsuya Ishihara
Art_department | Suzumiya Haruhi no yûutsu
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (2006-09, anime series ) The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya (2010)
52. Gakuryû Ishii
Director | Yume no ginga
aka Sogo Ishii
Cyberpunk, began his career making underground films (see also Shinya Tsukamoto)
The Crazy Family (1984) Labyrinth of Dreams (1997) 1/2 Man (1986) Burst City (1982)
53. Katsuhito Ishii
Director | Cha no aji
The Taste of Tea (2004) The Funky Forest (2005)
54. Jûzô Itami
Writer | Osôshiki
A tragic end belies a life led with purpose. The son of a successful filmmaker, Juzo Itami made his name acting in television and films before making a late career shift into screenwriting and directing at age 50. Known to choose the subjects of his films through everyday observations, he often ...
Tampopo (1985) A Taxing Woman (1987)
55. Shunji Iwai
Writer | Vampire
Having received his education at Yokohama National University, Shunji Iwai started out in the entertainment industry by directing music videos and television dramas, including the likes of Maria, Lunatic Love and Fireworks, for which he received the award for Best Newcomer from the Japanese ...
All About Lily Chou-Chou (2001) Swallowtail Butterfly (1996)
57. Naomi Kawase
Director | An
Naomi Kawase was born on May 30, 1969 in Nara, Japan. She is a director and writer, known for Sweet Bean (2015), Suzaku (1997) and Still the Water (2014). She was previously married to Takenori Sentô.
Shara (2003) Suzaku (1997)
Writer | Nijûshi no hitomi
Keisuke Kinoshita was born on December 5, 1912 in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka, Japan. He was a writer and director, known for Twenty-Four Eyes (1954), The Ballad of Narayama (1958) and The Garden of Women (1954). He died on December 30, 1998 in Tokyo, Japan.
Ballad of Narayama (1958) Twenty-Four Eyes (1954)
Director | Jigokumon
Former female impersonator who entered films in 1917 as an actor, turned to directing in 1922 and made some of the most formally brilliant Japanese films of the following decades. The few of Kinugasa's early works to have reached the West betray a highly mature, sophisticated talent. His best-known...
known for A Page of Madness, a surreal experimental film made three years (!) before Bunuel's An Andalusian Dog (1929)
A Page of Madness (1926, silent film) Gate of Hell (1953)
60. Takeshi Kitano
Actor | Zatôichi
Takeshi Kitano originally studied to become an engineer, but was thrown out of school for rebellious behavior. He learned comedy, singing and dancing from famed comedian Senzaburô Fukami. Working as a lift boy on a nightclub with such features as comic sketches and striptease dancing, Kitano saw ...
Fireworks (1997) Sonatine (1993) Kikujiro (1999)
61. Masaki Kobayashi
Director | Seppuku
Masaki Kobayashi was born on February 14, 1916 in Hokkaido, Japan. He was a director and writer, known for Harakiri (1962), The Human Condition III: A Soldier's Prayer (1961) and Samurai Rebellion (1967). He died on October 4, 1996 in Tokyo, Japan.
Samurai films, anti-war films
Harakiri (1962) The Human Condition I: No Greater Love (1959) The Human Condition II: Road to Eternity (1959) The Human Condition III: A Soldier's Prayer (1961) Samurai Rebellion (1967) Kwaidan (1964)
62. Satoshi Kon
Writer | Tôkyô goddofâzâzu
Satoshi Kon was born in 1963. He studied at the Musashino College of the Arts. He began his career as a Manga artist. He then moved to animation and worked as a background artist on many films (including Roujin Z (1991) by 'Katsuhiro Otomo'). Then, in 1995, he wrote an episode of the anthology film ...
Perfect Blue (1997) Paprika (2006) Millennium Actress (2001) Tokyo Godfathers (2003) Paranoia Agent (Mini-Series, 2004)
63. Yoshifumi Kondô
Director | Mimi wo sumaseba
Famed anime director Hayao Miyazaki had intended Kondo to be his successor as Studio Ghibli's film director. Unfortunately, Kondo was only able to direct a single Ghibli film before his untimely death in 1998, Whisper of the Heart (1995).
Whisper of the Heart (1995)
64. Hirokazu Koreeda
Director | Manbiki kazoku
Born in Tokyo in 1962. Originally intended to be a novelist, but after graduating from Waseda University in 1987 went on to become an assistant director at T.V. Man Union. Snuck off set to film Lessons from a Calf (1991). His first feature, Maborosi (1995), based on a Teru Miyamoto novel and drawn ...
Nobody Knows (2004) Maborosi (1995) Still Walking (2008) After Life (1998) Like Father, Like Son (2013)
Director | Nankyoku monogatari
Koreyoshi Kurahara was born on May 31, 1927 in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia. He was a director and writer, known for Antarctica (1983), Eight Below (2006) and Kaitei kara kita onna (1959). He was married to Yumiko Miyagino. He died on December 28, 2002 in Yokohama, Japan.
Japanese New Wave
The Warped Ones (1960) The Thirst for Love (1966)
66. Akira Kurosawa
Writer | Kakushi-toride no san-akunin
After training as a painter (he storyboards his films as full-scale paintings), Kurosawa entered the film industry in 1936 as an assistant director, eventually making his directorial debut with Sanshiro Sugata (1943). Within a few years, Kurosawa had achieved sufficient stature to allow him greater...
chambara (samurai films), jidaigeki (Japanese historical dramas)
Seven Samurai (1954) Rashomon (1950) Ikiru (1952) Ran (1985) Yojimbo (1961) High and Low (1963) Throne of Blood (1957) Stray Dog (1949) Red Beard (1965) Hidden Fortress (1958) Drunken Angel (1948)
67. Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Director | Tokyo Sonata
J-Horror, Psychological Thriller
The Cure (1997) Tokyo Sonata (2008) Pulse (2001)
68. Yasuzô Masumura
Director | Daichi no komoriuta
Born in Yamanashi, Japan, Yasuzô Masumura would become known as a maverick director whose main legacy was films portraying and promoting individualism, which was the opposite of the norm in Japanese society. He earned a law degree towards the end of World War II from Tokyo University, yet joined ...
Blind Beast (1969) Red Angel (1966)
69. Toshio Matsumoto
Director | Shura
A 1955 graduate of Tokyo University, Toshio Matsumoto is a pioneer of avant-garde experimental movies, multimedia, and video in his homeland and abroad. His first experimental short was _Song of the Stones (1963)_. His most famous work is 1969's wildly experimental _Funeral Parade of Roses_, ...
Japanese New Wave
Funeral Parade of Roses (1969) Demons (1971)
70. Kenji Misumi
Director | Okami yo rakujitsu o kire
Kenji Misumi was born on March 2, 1921 in Kyoto, Japan. Misumi was the illegitimate child of a geisha mother and originally wanted to be a painter, but his father disapproved. Kenji attended Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan. During this time Misumi met future Daiei studio head Kan Kikuchi, ...
Samurai films with 70's exploitation style
Lone Wolf and Cub (series of six films, 1972-74) The Tale of Zatoichi (1962) Hanzo the Razor: Sword of Justice (1972)
71. Hayao Miyazaki
Director | Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi
Hayao Miyazaki is one of Japan's greatest animation directors. The entertaining plots, compelling characters, and breathtaking animation in his films have earned him international renown from critics as well as public recognition within Japan. The Walt Disney Company's commitment to introduce the ...
Coming-of-age anime with strong female characters
Spirited Away (2001) Princess Mononoke (1997) My Neighbor Totoro (1988) Castle in the Sky (1986) Howl's Moving Castle (2004) Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984)
72. Takashi Miike
Director | Koroshiya 1
Takashi Miike was born in the small town of Yao on the outskirts of Osaka, Japan. His main interest growing up was motorbikes, and for a while he harbored ambitions to race professionally. At the age of 18 he went to study at the film school in Yokohama founded by renowned director Shôhei Imamura, ...
lots of disturbing and fücked up films
Audition (1999) Gozu (2003) 13 Assassins (2010) Fudoh: The New Generation (1996)
73. Kenji Mizoguchi
Director | Saikaku ichidai onna
Coming from a lower class family Mizoguchi entered the production company Nikkatsu as an actor specialized in female roles. Later he became an assistant director and made his first film in 1922. Although he filmed almost 90 movies in the silent era, only his last 12 productions are really known ...
Ugetsu (1953) Sansho the Bailiff (1954) The Life of Oharu (1952) The Crucified Lovers (1954) The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums (1939) Street of Shame (1956)
74. Hiroshi Nagahama
Director | Detoroito Metaru Shiti
Mushishi (TV Series, 2005-06)
Director | Kokuhaku
Confessions (2010) Memories of Matsuko (2006)
76. Hideo Nakata
Director | Honogurai mizu no soko kara
Ring (1998) Dark Water (2002)
77. Mikio Naruse
Director | Ukigumo
Came from a poor background and worked his way up from prop man at the Shochiko company in 1920, to full director ten years later. Had his best period in the 1950', becoming known for his depiction of contemporary social problems, particularly the role of women in Japanese society.
When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (1960) Repast (1951)
Director | Hausu
House (1977, cult film)
79. Kihachi Okamoto
Director | Dai yûkai
Okamoto belonged to what one colleague called "the generation where most of them got killed": the leagues of university graduates who were drafted into and sacrificed to the last years of Japan's war in the South Pacific. Okamoto was drafted during the very worst of it, in 1943, but almost alone ...
The Sword of Doom (1966) Kill! (1968)
80. Mamoru Oshii
Director | Innocence
Mamoru Oshii is a Japanese filmmaker, television director and screenwriter. Famous for his philosophy-oriented storytelling, Oshii has directed a number of popular anime, including Urusei Yatsura (1981-1984), Angel's Egg (1985), Patlabor: The Movie (1989), Ghost in the Shell (1995), and Ghost in ...
Ghost in the Shell (1995) Angel's Egg (1985)
81. Nagisa Ôshima
Director | Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence
Nagisa Oshima's career extends from the initiation of the "Nuberu bagu" (New Wave) movement in Japanese cinema in the late 1950s and early 1960s, to the contemporary use of cinema and television to express paradoxes in modern society. After an early involvement with the student protest movement in ...
Japanese New Wave
Death by Hanging (1968) Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (1983)
82. Katsuhiro Ôtomo
Writer | Akira
Katsuhiro Ôtomo is a Japanese manga artist, screenwriter and film director. He is best known as the creator of the manga Akira and its animated film adaptation.
In 1979, after writing multiple short-stories for the magazine Action, Otomo created his first science-fiction work, titled Fireball. ...
Akira (1988) Memories (1995)
83. Yasujirô Ozu
Director | Tôkyô monogatari
Tokyo-born Yasujiro Ozu was a movie buff from childhood, often playing hooky from school in order to see Hollywood movies in his local theatre. In 1923 he landed a job as a camera assistant at Shochiku Studios in Tokyo. Three years later, he was made an assistant director and directed his first ...
quiet family dramas
Tokyo Story (1953) Late Spring (1949) Early Summer (1951) Tokyo Twilight (1957) I Was Born, But... (1932, silent film) An Autumn Afternoon (1962) Floating Weeds (1959) Early Spring (1956) There Was a Father (1942)
Director | Miss Zombie
Japanese director/writer/actor whose often kinetic, cyberpunk style is much imitated. He expressed appreciation over the similarity of the international hit German film "Run Lola Run" (1998) to his first film as a director/writer, "Dangan Runner" (1996). When asked at the Chicago International Film...
Monday (2000) Postman Blues (1997)
86. Hiroshi Shimizu
Director | Kanzashi
The director was the subject of a retrospective when ten of his films were screened at the 2003 Tokyo Filmex. The event coincided with what would have been Shimizu's hundredth birthday.
Mr. Thank You (1936) Japanese Girls at the Harbor (1933)
87. Akiyuki Shinbo
Is a freelance director but frequently works with Studio Shaft.
anime series (2011)
Puella Magi Madoka Magica
88. Kaneto Shindô
Writer | Ichimai no hagaki
Kaneto Shindô was born on April 22, 1912 in Hiroshima, Japan. He was a writer and director, known for Postcard (2010), A Last Note (1995) and The Naked Island (1960). He was married to Nobuko Otowa and Miyo Shindo. He died on May 29, 2012 in Hiroshima.
Jidaigeki with elements of horror
Onibaba (1964) The Naked Island (1960) Kuroneko (1968)
89. Masahiro Shinoda
Director | Shinjû: Ten no Amijima
Masahiro Shinoda was born on March 9, 1931 in Gifu, Japan. He is a director and writer, known for Double Suicide (1969), Silence (1971) and Ballad of Orin (1977). He has been married to Shima Iwashita since 1967. They have one child.
Japanese New Wave
recommended films: Pale Flower (1964) Double Suicide (1969)
90. Shinji Sômai
Director | Taifû kurabu
Shinji Sômai was born on January 13, 1948 in Morioka, Iwate, Japan as Jirô Sugita. He was a director and assistant director, known for Typhoon Club (1985), Ohikkoshi (1993) and Wait and See (1998). He died on September 9, 2001 in Isehara, Kanagawa, Japan.
Coming-of-age & teen films
Ohikkoshi (1993) Typhoon Club (1985)
91. Sion Sono
Director | Ai no mukidashi
Shion Sono is a Japanese director, writer and poet. Born in Aichi Perfecture in 1961 he started his career working as a poet before taking his first steps in film directing. As a student he shot a series of short films in Super 8 and managed to make his first feature films in the late 80s and early...
next to Miike the other enfant terrible of contemporary Japanese cinema
Love Exposure (2008) Why Don't You Play in Hell? (2013) Cold Fish (2010)
92. Seijun Suzuki
Director | Tsigoineruwaizen
Seijun Suzuki was born in Nihonbashi, Tôkyô, on May 24, 1923. In 1943, he entered the army to fight at the front. In 1946, he enrolled in the film department of the Kamakura Academy and passed the assistant director's exam. For the next few years, he worked as an assistant director at several ...
Branded to Kill (1967) Youth of the Beast (1963)
93. Isao Takahata
Director | Hotaru no haka
Isao Takahata was born on October 29, 1935 in Ise, Mie, Japan. He was a director and writer, known for Grave of the Fireflies (1988), The Tale of The Princess Kaguya (2013) and Only Yesterday (1991). He died on April 5, 2018 in Tokyo, Japan.
Grave of the Fireflies (1988) The Tale of Princess Kaguya (2013) Only Yesterday (1991)
94. Shûji Terayama
Writer | Saraba hakobune
Terayama Shuji was born the only son of Terayama Hachiro and Terayama Hatsu in Hirosaki City, Aomori on December 10th, 1935; but his birth and name were officially registered on January 10th, 1936. His father, an officer in the "thought police", leaves for the Pacific War in early 1941. He dies in ...
Surrealism, experimental films
Pastoral Hide and Seek (1974) Throw Away Your Books, Rally in the Streets (1971) Grass Labyrinth (1979)
Director | Suna no onna
Hiroshi Teshigahara was born the son of Sofu Teshigahara who was the founder of the Sogetsu School of Ikebana (flower arrangement). In 1950, he graduated from the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music in oil painting. In 1958, he became the director of Sogetsu Art Centre and took a ...
Japanese New Wave
Woman in the Dunes (1964) The Face of Another (1966) Pitfall (1962)
Actor | Tetsuo
Cyberpunk, began his career making underground films (see also Sogo Ishii)
Tetsuo, the Iron Man (1989) A Snake of June (2002) Tokyo Fist (1995) Kotoko (2011)
98. Kôji Wakamatsu
The pioneering Kôji Wakamatsu (born Ito Takashi) was a contemporary of Oshima Nagisa and equally controversial, yet not as famous. The man was born in Miyagi Prefecture in the north of Japan before dropping out of agricultural school, some say following a physical altercation, moving to Tokyo at ...
Pink Film, Japanese New Wave
Go, Go, Second Time Virgin (1969) The Embryo Hunts in Secret (1966)
Director | The Animatrix
Cowboy Bebop (1998) Samurai Champloo (2004–2005)
100. Yôji Yamada
Writer | Tasogare Seibei
Yamada Yoji graduated Tokyo University in 1954, the year he joined Shochiku as an assistant director. In 1969, he launched the popular "Tora-san" series, the world's longest theatrical film series. "The Twilight Samurai" (The Twilight Samurai (2002)) marks his 77th film as well as his 41th year as ...
started making samurai films in his late career, also known as the director of the Tora-san film series, with nearly 50 films one of the longest film series ever made
The Twilight Samurai (2002) The Hidden Blade (2004)