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Takeshi Kitano

Takeshi Kitano

Brother is the first film from director Takeshi Kitano made outside of his native Japan. Since his 1989 directorial debut, Kitano has written, directed, edited or starred in nine films - almost a film per year, never losing the momentum of his extraordinary originality and heightened artistic sensibility.

The success of his seventh film, Hana-bi, confirmed Kitano as a leading figure of international cinema. Among its numerous awards, Hana-bi won the Golden Lion at the 1997 Venice Film Festival and was named Best Non-European Film at the 1997 European Film Academy Awards. Hana-bi was cited on numerous Best Films of the Year lists, often in the premiere position.

Like Brother, Kitano-directed films such as his debut Violent Cop, Boiling Point (1990) and Sonatine (1993), centered around yakuza gangster characters. The filmmaker chose to contrast the violence and action of those films with comedy or tenderness in films like A Scene at the Sea (1991), Getting Any? (1995), Kids Return (1996) and Kikujiro (1999).

Kitano has also appeared as an actor in films by other directors. He won international attention for his role in Nagisa Oshima's Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (1983). He recently starred in Oshima's Gohatto (Taboo), presented in Cannes. His credits in films directed by other filmmakers include Robert Longo's Johnny Mnemonic (1995) starring Keanu Reeves, and Toshihiro Tenma's Many Happy Returns (1993).

Kitano was born in Tokyo in 1947 and entered show business in 1972 using the name Beat Takeshi, the stage name that he continues to use today as a performer. One of the foremost media personalities in his native Japan, Kitano has written a number of novels, short stories, and poetry and essay collections. An accomplished painter, Kitano at times uses his artwork in his own films to startling and symbolic effect. He sponsors an amateur baseball team for which he sometimes plays, has released several records, and manages a group of comedians and actors.

As 'Beat Takeshi' of the comic duo Two Beats, Kitano was one of the leading figures in bringing the manzai (stand-up comic duo) boom in the late 1970s. Throughout the 1980's, he further extended his popularity to a nation-wide level and became one of the most popular entertainers in the country with his distinctive art of speech and his idiosyncratic perspective.

The prestigious International Film Guide for the Year 2000 named Kitano as one of its Five Best Directors of the Year.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2003.

Takeshi Kitano Facts

OccupationDirector, Actor
BirthdayJanuary 18, 1947 (76)
BirthplaceTokyo, Japan

Selected Filmography

Violent Cop
Boiling Point
The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi
Beyond Outrage
Ryuzo & His Seven Henchmen
Outrage: Way of the Yakuza
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