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Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) will showcase the work of actor Koji Yakusho and anime director Masaaki Yuasa at this year’s event.
Yakusho found fame in Japan starring as samurai lord Oda Nobunaga in public broadcaster NHK’s yearlong historical “Taiga” drama Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1983, before appearing in Juzo Itami’s Tampopo in 1986.
During the 1990s he garnered international acclaim with films including Masayuki Suo’s Shall We Dance?, Cannes’ Palme d’Or winner The Eel by Shohei Imamura and Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Cure. He went on to collaborate six more times with Kurosawa and has been cast by most of Japan’s leading directors, including Hirokazu Kore-eda in last year’s The Third Murder.
He plays a hard-boiled detective dealing with yakuza gangsters in Kazuya Shiraishi’s Blood of Wolves, which opens in Japan on May 12. A retrospective of Yakusho’s 40-year career will be screened in the Japan Now selection.
“In one film, he plays the enigmatic defendant in a murder case, changing his story at whim as if he’s a god; in another, he portrays a cop investigating a series of gruesome murders, gradually becoming a monster himself. He has indelibly played dozens of characters, and imbued them with humanism and inimitable imagination,” said Kohei Ando, TIFF programming advisor, of Yakusho.
“It has been 40 years since I first developed an interest in acting. For someone who has not been able to stick to a single thing since childhood, it’s a miracle that I’ve been able to pursue this profession for four decades,” said Yakusho.
This year’s TIFF Animation Focus will shine a spotlight on Yuasa, whose Lu Over the Wall and Night is Short, Walk On Girl both took prizes at international festivals last year.
“I am honored to have such an opportunity, and also very surprised. It is also a pleasure to see the work of the crews and casts who participated in the production of my past films,” said Yuasa. “I appreciate that many people who haven’t seen my work before will have this opportunity to see them. I myself will also enjoy having the chance to look back over my past work.”
Yuasa worked on numerous TV anime series and as an animator on Studio Ghibli’s My Neighbors the Yamadas before his 2004 feature debut Mind Game. He has continued to work on anime series and directed Devilman Crybaby, which began streaming on Netflix at the beginning of the year.
The full lineup for both showcases will be announced in September. TIFF runs from Oct. 25 to Nov 3. at the Roppongi Hills complex and other central Tokyo venues.
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