Shunji Iwai

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Skapad den: 15 maj 2012
Shunji Iwai's films consistently have an uncanny resonance with 90s Japanese pop culture, making him one of the most important directors of his generation.

Shunji Iwai (岩井 俊二)
born January 24 1963, Sendai, Miyagi, Japan

Wiki | Mubi | IMDb

One of the most popular and influential Japanese directors of his generation, the multi-talented Shunji Iwai is commonly recognized for his distinctive and innovative visual style. Although describing himself as an "eizo sakka" (visual artist), characters and plot themes are often excellently developed in his films, all of which he has personally scripted. Iwai has also edited several of his films, and has even scored the music for more recent efforts. Often using women protagonists, Iwai has garnered fine performances from Japanese Pop singers in key roles, most notably Miho Nakayama in Love Letter (1995) and Chara in Picnic (1996) and Swallowtail Butterfly (1996). A trend-setter, he has created a style that resonates with Japanese pop culture, striking a chord with contemporary Japanese youth, especially young women.

Picnic (1996)

Swallowtail Butterfly (1996)

Fascinated by film, Iwai spent much of his youth in Sendai theaters before entering Yokohama National University in 1981 where he shot experimental films. Graduating in 1987, he began his career directing music videos and TV ads before beginning in 1991 to write and direct TV dramas. Fireworks, Should We See It from the Side or the Bottom? (1993) impressively won the Japanese Director's Association Best Newcomer Award, a tribute usually given to directors of feature films. Iwai switched to theatrical productions with the short film Undo (1994). The short feature Picnic (1996), about a trio of mental patients venturing outside to find a spot to view the end of the world, was withheld from release until 1996 due to a fear that the plot mirrored some aspects of the sarin gas attacks in Tokyo in March, 1995. So, Love Letter became his theatrical feature debut. Typical of Iwai's collaboration with his preferred cinematographer, the late Noboru Shinoda, Love Letter (1995) is visually innovative. They pioneered the use of hand-held "scope" (2.35:1) camera work to lyrically photograph snowy winter scenes. An artistic and commercial breakthrough, it played to sold-out audiences in Japan. Swallowtail Butterfly (1996), set in the near future, was even more popular. Iwai set the tone of his next feature, April Story (1998) using springtime weather creatively, with cherry blossom petals cascading like snowflakes in one early scene, and rain showers pivotal to the ending.

Undo (1994)

He debuted as an actor in Ritual (2000) and then created an Internet chat site where he guided discussion to create a plot about the mythical pop singer Lily Chou-Chou and her music. This led in 2001 to a CD-ROM "novel" followed by a printed novel and the release of the theatrical feature All About Lily Chou-Chou (2001) appropriately the first Japanese feature captured digitally rather than on film. Of many plots involving students, this is Iwai's darkest. Iwai contributed the short-film, 'Arita' to Jam Films (2002), a compilation by seven Japanese directors. Hana and Alice (2004) started as short films on the Nestle website to commemorate the 30th anniversary of "Kit-Kat" bars in Japan. These were merged into a feature film about friendship and first love for theatrical release.

Ritual (2000)

All About Lily Chou-Chou (2001)


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  • teguhprayoga

    i love "Walk On The Clouds" by Remedios :))

    18 aug 2014 Svara
  • chester-A

    Thanks again Kanken for all your help. :) Has anyone noticed that Picnic, Swallowtail Butterfly, Undo, All about Lily Chou chou, and many other of his films are getting a blu ray release in Japan? They don't come with English subs however. I was thinking of buying a blu ray drive to add the subtitles myself. I may need a new computer for the SATA cable they come with. Hmmm... If I do get the drive, I'd be happy to send a blu ray disc to those who desire it. :)

    26 apr 2013 Svara
  • chester-A

    Sion Sono is also a favorite of mine and comparing their work doesn't seem to make me appreciate their work anymore or less. They're both really talented and unique.

    25 apr 2013 Svara
  • chester-A

    I've been trying to watch all of his films. I love Picnic the most, then Swallowtail Butterfly, All about Lily Chou chou, Hana & Alice, and then Love Letter. Does anyone know where I can watch Undo??? It looks awesome. I'd flat out buy it but it's really expensive to import and I want to know if I love it before I buy it.

    25 apr 2013 Svara
  • MewMewCow

    Sion Sono's work is very different to Shunji Iwai's, I don't think it's as simple as one is better than the other. [3] THIS.

    26 maj 2012 Svara
  • Langeais

    Sion Sono's work is very different to Shunji Iwai's, I don't think it's as simple as one is better than the other. [2] Impossible to compare Shunji Iwai to Sono Shion.

    19 maj 2012 Svara
  • athaiya

    I have seen "Picnic" and "All About Lily Chou-Chou" a long time ago... good movies...

    19 maj 2012 Svara
  • StarCoreA

    Sion Sono's work is very different to Shunji Iwai's, I don't think it's as simple as one is better than the other.

    19 maj 2012 Svara
  • deadgrandma

    Sono Sion is better

    19 maj 2012 Svara
  • shinful_lucide

    awesome caps, all of them ^^

    18 maj 2012 Svara
  • Langeais

    Don't forget " Love Letter ". Personally, the most delightful love story I have seen.

    18 maj 2012 Svara
  • wilsonjj

    All About Lily Chou-Chou /w \....

    18 maj 2012 Svara
  • StarCoreA

    Definitely Swallowtail Butterfly [2], and I highly recommend Shiki Jitsu (Ritual) although it's directed by Hideaki Anno of Neon Genesis Evangelion fame. Iwai is one of the main characters and it has a very similar feel to the films he has directed.

    17 maj 2012 Svara
  • AcidVampyre

    Definitely Swallowtail Butterfly! It's among my favorite movies of all-time, besides Lily Chou-Chou. I've tried watching Picnic but I didn't like it much so I abandoned it. I have to give it another chance. And April Story is a pretty interesting short movie, even though it's a bit uneventful.

    17 maj 2012 Svara
  • quixoticquackle

    which iwai film should I see next? I've only seen hana & alice and lily

    17 maj 2012 Svara
  • StarCoreA

    I'd have to say Swallowtail Butterfly (although obviously Lily is his masterpiece). Still need to see Picnic though, can't believe it went under my radar...

    17 maj 2012 Svara
  • followingsun

    i didn't known undo film. best iwai film apart lily?

    17 maj 2012 Svara
  • green_eggg

    lovely group :)

    17 maj 2012 Svara