Shunji Iwai

Infobox Person
name=Iwai Shunji


caption=Shunji Iwai, filming 2004s "Hana & Alice".
birth_date=Birth date and age|1963|1|24|mf=y
birth_place=
death_date=
death_place=

Shunji Iwai (岩井俊二 "Iwai Shunji", born January 24, 1963 in Sendai, Japan, Miyagi prefecture). Iwai is a Japanese film director/video artist, writer and documentarian.

Iwai attended Yokohama National University, graduating in 1987. In 1988 he started out in the Japanese entertainment industry by directing TV dramas and music videos. Then, in 1993, his TV drama, "Fireworks", brought him critical praise and an award from the Japanese Director's Association for his portrayal of a group of children in the town of Iioka.

In 1995 he went on to start his career in feature films, starting with the box-office hit "Love Letter", in which he cast pop singer Miho Nakayama in challenging dual roles. "Love Letter" also launched the movie career of Miki Sakai who won a Japanese Academy Award as 'Newcomer of the Year' for her portrayal of Itsuki Fujii as a young girl. Iwai collaborated with cinematographer Noboru Shinoda to produce a film praised for its evocative winter cinematography. "Love Letter" made an impact in other east Asian countries too, notably South Korea where the film's success helped break down the post-World War II barriers to Japanese films being shown there.

In 1996 came the commercial and critical success of "Swallowtail Butterfly", a multifaceted story of the fictional Yen Town, a city of immigrants in search of hope and a better life with three separate and distinct main characters. Ageha (Ayumi Ito), an orphaned teenage girl, Glico (Chara), a prostitute turned pop star, and Feihong (Hiroshi Mikami), an immigrant who manages Glico's career and owns the Yen Town club.

In 1998, Fine Line Features released "Love Letter" in the US theatrically under the new title "When I Close My Eyes "; it was the first Iwai-directed film to be released in the US theatrically.

Iwai enjoyed another kind of success with this film as well, having teamed up with Takeshi Kobayashi to create the music for the film and the Yen Town Band, headed by Pop star Chara. The band they created became a commercial hit in Japan. He would team up with Kobayashi again in 2001 for the harrowing High School Drama "All About Lily Chou-Chou". Kobayashi would create the music for the titular pop star, Lily Chou-Chou (voiced by Japanese singer Salyu), that is spread through the film (as well as Debussy), and later be released as an album entitled "Kokyu (Breathe)".

In 2002 he released a short, "ARITA", in which he composed his own film score for the first time. In 2004 Iwai released "Hana & Alice", his first comedy. He once again composed the film score himself.

His next project, a piece he's written about the Japanese indie Rock scene in the mid 1990s called "Bandage", is slated for release in late 2006. It will be helmed by Ryuhei Kitamura, of Azumi fame. Curiosity has spread over why Iwai is not directing his own script, but no answer has been revealed. He has recently directed a commercial airing in Japan featuring Matsu Takako, whom he has not worked with since 1998.

October, 2006 sees the Iwai produced film Rainbow Song released in Japan. The film is directed by Naoto Kumazawa and was written by Ami Sakurai. It stars previous Iwai actors Hayato Ichihara, Yu Aoi and Shoko Aida. Also in 2006, Iwai spent time documenting and interviewing Kon Ichikawa while filming The Inugamis (Inugamike no ichizoku - 2006) to create a feature length documentary about the director's life.

Filmography

# "New York, I Love You" (2008)
# "Hōtai Club" (2007) (Writer only; credited as Aminosan)
# "The Kon Ichikawa Story" (2006)
# "Rainbow Song" (2006) (Producer and Writer)
# "Hana & Alice" (2004)
# "30 days with the Japanese National Football Team" (2002)
# "Jam Films" (2002) - segment "ARITA"
# "All About Lily Chou-Chou" (2001)
# "The Kids Who Wanted to View Fireworks from Another Perspective" (1999)
# "April Story" (1998)
# "" (1997)
# "" (1996)
# "Swallowtail Butterfly" (1996)
# "Picnic" (1996)
# "Love Letter" (aka " When I Close My Eyes " (US)) (1995)
# "Lunatic Love" (1994)
# "Undo (Film)" (1994)
# "The Snow King" (1993)
# "Fried Dragon Fish" (1993)
# "Fireworks, Should We See It from the Side or the Bottom?" (1993) - (Abbr: Fireworks)
# "Omelette (Film)" (1992)
# "A Summer Solstice Story" (1992)
# "A Tin of Crab Meat" (1992)
# "Maria (Film)" (1992)
# "Ghost Soup" (1992)
# "The Man Who Came to Kill" (1991)
# "Unknown Child (Film)" (1991)

Awards

"Hana & Alice"
* Best Actress: Yû Aoi, 2005 - Japanese Professional Movie Award

"All About Lily Chou-Chou"
* 2002 - Berlin International Film Festival: The C.I.C.A.E. Panorama Prize.
* 2002 - 6th Shanghai International Film Festival: Special Jury Award / Best Music.

"April Story"
* 1998 - Pusan International Film Festival, Audience Award.

"Swallowtail Butterfly"
* 1998 - Fant-Asia Film Festival, Best Asian Film.

"Love Letter"
* Montreal Film Festival Audience Award.
* 20th Houchi Cinema Award: Best Director.
* 8th Nikkan Sports Movie Award: Best New Comer.
* 69th Kinema Junpo Best 10: Reader's poll for Directors.
* 50th Mainichi Movie Competition: Best Japanese Movie.
* 17th Yokohama Film Festival: Production Award, Director Award.
* 21st Osaka Film Festival: Production Award, Best New Director.
* 19th Academy Award in Japan: Best Production.
* 6th ACA Film Award: Best Film Production.
* 46th Arts Recommendations: New Comer Award from the Ministry of Culture.
* 10th Takasaki Film Festival: Grand Prix of young directors.

"PiCNiC"
* 1996 - Berlin International Film Festival, Forum of new cinema Prize of the Readers of the Berliner Zeitung.

"Undo"
* 1995 - Berlin International Film Festival, Forum of new cinema, Netpac Award.

"Fireworks"
* 1993 - Japanese Film Directors Association, Best New Comer Award.

"Unknown Child"
* 1991 - Galaxy Award, Dranma dos Award.

ee also

*Cinema of Japan

External links

* [http://yentown.co.jp/ The Yen Town Report (Official Website)]
*
* [http://www.jmdb.ne.jp/person/p0387030.htm Iwai Shunji's JMDb Listing] Ja icon
* [http://www.csfd.cz/herec.php?3673 Iwai Shunji's CSFD Listing] Cs icon
* [http://www.twitchfilm.net/archives/007195.html Twitch Film on Niji no Megami Rainbow Song]


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