Lily Franky (The Shell Collector)
Recipient of the CUT ABOVE Award for Outstanding Performance in Film
Lily Franky is a Japanese actor, illustrator, essayist, and author of the best-selling autobiographical novel Tokyo Tower: Me and Mom, and Sometimes Dad, which was adapted into a film in 2007. Since beginning his acting career in 2001, he has distinguished himself as one of the most highly sought-out, versatile actors in Japanese cinema, often playing scene-stealing supporting characters. He is best known to international film audiences for his memorable performance in Hirokazu Kore-eda's Like Father, Like Son (2013), for which he won multiple awards including the Kinema Junpo Award and Japan Academy Prize for Best Supporting Actor. In addition to The Shell Collector, his first leading role since Ryosuke Hashiguchi’s All Around Us (JAPAN CUTS 2009), Franky can be seen in Bakuman and Three Stories of Love.

Denden (Lowlife Love)
Venerable character actor Denden first appeared in Yoshimitsu Morita’s Something Like It in 1981 and has since acted in over 100 films and TV shows. His impressive career includes turns in Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Cure (1997) and Takashi Shimizu’s Ju-on (2000), among many others. He is best known for his role in Sion Sono’s Cold Fish (2010), for which he won multiple awards including the Kinema Junpo Award and Japan Academy Prize for Best Supporting Actor.


Atsuko Maeda (Mohican Comes Home)
Maeda shot to mega-stardom as one of the most prominent members of AKB48. Since graduating from the idol group in 2012, she has become an in-demand actress, starring in TV dramas as well as working with some of Japan’s most well-respected film directors such as Ryuichi Hiroki, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Hideo Nakata, Nobuhiro Yamashita, portraying against type characters complicating her previous girl group star image while demonstrating fantastic talents as a performer.


Mizuki Misumi (Mother, I've Pretty Much Forgotten Your Face)
One of the vibrant artists appearing in Endo’s documentary, Kagoshima native Misumi is a poet known for her performances, published collections, and music albums. She was awarded the Gendaishi Techo (Modern Poetry Notebook) Award in 2004, received the 10th Chuya Nakahara Prize for her first book of poetry Overkill, and her following collection received the Rekitei Prize for Young Poets and the Southern Japan Literature Award.


Tatsuya Mori (FAKE)
Born in Hiroshima, Mori is a filmmaker and writer renowned for the award-winning A (1998) and A2 (2001), on Aum Shinrikyo and the aftermath of the 1995 Tokyo subway sarin gas attacks. His 2011 film 311 is a collaborative documentary about the aftermath of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake. Winner of the Kodansha prize for nonfiction, Mori has published over 30 best-selling books on social issues and the media.

Mipo O (Being Good)
From Mie Prefecture, O studied at Osaka University of Arts, later working under Nobuhiko Obayashi. After her Harmony received the Digital Short Grand Prix Award at Tokyo International Fantastic Film Festival, she directed her first feature The Sakai’s Happiness, which won the Sundance/NHK International Filmmakers Award. Her recent The Light Shines Only There (JAPAN CUTS 2015) was Japan's Best Foreign Language Film entry for the 2015 Academy Awards.

Shuichi Okita (Mohican Comes Home)
Born in Saitama, Okita began his career making short films, eventually winning the Grand Prix at the 7th Mito Short Film Festival for his short Sharing a Hotpot (2002), later moving on to feature films. His breakthrough feature The Woodsman and the Rain (2011), starring Koji Yakusho, was the centerpiece presentation at JAPAN CUTS 2012 and won numerous awards including the Special Jury Prize at the 24th Tokyo International Film Festival.


Hitoshi One (Bakuman)
A veteran TV director, One made his feature debut with the popular romantic drama Love Strikes (JAPAN CUTS 2012) and followed up with sex comedy Be My Baby (aka The Vortex of Love) in 2013. A visually dynamic filmmaker with a gift for comedy, One quickly found an international audience at festivals such as Udine Far East Film Festival, Nippon Connection, and Fantasia, among others. Bakuman is his third feature.

Onohana (Experimental Spotlight)
From Iwate, Onohana’s Tokyo University of the Arts’ Department of Animation thesis received the Noburo Ofuji Award at the Mainichi Film Concours, and her works have debuted throughout Japan and internationally, including TOKYO ANIMA!, Seoul International Cartoon & Animation Festival, FANTOCHE, and Ottawa International Animation Festival. A skilled and versatile animator, her works evoke fantastical worlds of imagination and landscapes of the mind.

Emmanuel Osei-Kuffour, Jr. (Born With It)
Born and raised in Houston, Texas to a Ghanaian immigrant family, Osei-Kuffour fell in love with the storytelling sensibilities of Japanese cinema upon his first visit. For the past 6 years he lived in Japan working as a director/producer, with premieres in international festivals such as Cannes and Toronto. Now in Los Angeles, he is working on his first feature, to take place in the U.S. and Japan.

Ryuichi Sakamoto (Nagasaki: Memories of My Son)
A world-renowned composer, producer and musician, Sakamoto began his career as a founding member of pioneering techno-pop supergroup Yellow Magic Orchestra. His first film score for Nagisa Oshima’s Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (in which he also acted) brought immense critical acclaim, followed by an Academy Award win for his score to Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor. He recently scored Alejandro González Iñárritu’s The Revenant with Alva Noto.


Yoshifumi Tsubota (The Shell Collector)
Born in Kanagawa, Japan, Yoshifumi's experimental film Big Spectacles received the Grand Prix at the 2000 Image Forum Festival. His first narrative feature film, Miyoko, premiered in the Tiger Competition of the 2010 International Film Festival Rotterdam. Tsubota maintains a career working as a production designer and director of commercials and music videos while writing screenplays.

Adam Torel (Lowlife Love)
Torel is a film producer, programmer and the Managing Director of Third Window Films, the UK’s leading distributor of Asian contemporary cinema, through which he has helped bring greater international attention to filmmakers such as Sion Sono, Tetsuya Nakashima and Shinya Tsukamoto, among others. In addition to Lowlife Love, he has producing credits for Sono’s The Land of Hope and Yosuke Fujita’s Fuku-chan of FukuFuku Flats.

Eiji Uchida (Lowlife Love)
A prolific writer/director known for his genre-inflected films, Uchida is best known for his unique slasher/black comedy Greatful Dead (JAPAN CUTS 2014), which screened in 30 countries worldwide and received critical acclaim at film festivals including the Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival, Fantastic Fest, Raindance and more. With 13 features credited to his name since 2004, the tireless filmmaker is already at work on his next project.

Kensaku Watanabe (Emi-Abi)
Born in Fukushima, Watanabe joined producer Genjiro Arato's office in 1990, and worked as an assistant director for Seijun Suzuki’s Yumeji, making his writer/director debut with The Story of Pupu in 1998, followed by Chinchiromai, Loved Gun, Invisible War, and Cheer Cheer Cheer!. He produced and also played a lead role in Hiroshi Okuhara’s Wave (NETPAC Award, 2002 Rotterdam International Film Festival), and appeared in Satoko Yokohama’s 2011 short Midnight Jump. He received the Japan Academy Prize for Best Screenplay for Yuya Ishii’s 2013 The Great Passage (JAPAN CUTS 2014).

Satoko Yokohama (The Actor)
Awarded Best Film in Osaka’s CO2 Open Competition for her Film School of Tokyo thesis, Yokohama’s debut feature German + Rain (2007) received the Directors Guild of Japan New Directors Award and Osaka’s Grand Prix. Bursting onto the international scene with Bare Essence of Life (aka Ultra Miracle Love Story) set in her native Aomori, she continued to amaze with outstanding shorts (Granny Girl, Midnight Jump, A Girl in the Apple Farm) and now The Actor.

Images, from top to bottom: Tatsuya Mori © Toge Satoshi; Ryuichi Sakamoto © Kazunali Tajima.

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