Sunday, July 17, 2011

Six Questions for... Toshiaki Toyoda

Of the wave of new film-makers that came out of Japan in the late 90's and early 00's one stands head and shoulders above the rest -- Toshiaki Toyoda. While the work of the 42-year-old director may superficially reflect the violence and cool of so many of his film-making peers of the last decade a closer viewing reveals layers of humour, dark beauty and keen human insight. And then there's his masterful use of music. It was actually a desire to pursue music that brought Toyoda, a former chess prodigy, from Osaka to Tokyo but it was an encounter with director Junji Sakamoto that turned his attention to film-making. Toyoda quickly made his mark with films like 1998's "Pornostar", a.k.a. "Tokyo Rampage", the boxing documentary "Unchain", and an adaptation of Taiyo Matsumoto's manga "Blue Spring". 2003's prison break saga "9 Souls" and 2005's grim domestic drama "Hanging Garden" revealed a more mature Toyoda, one ready to stand alongside the likes of such major film-making talent as Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Hirokazu Koreeda; but a 2005 drug conviction nearly derailed his promising career. Thankfully Toyoda returned to directing with 2009's "Blood of Rebirth", a resurrection both on screen and off. CM

1. What movie inspired you to become a film-maker? What was it about the movie that was inspiring?

“Dotsuitarunen (Knockout)” by Junji Sakamoto. It's his passion.

2. Is there someone you always wanted to work with on a project, but have never had the chance?

Ken Takakura and Edward Norton (He is good at Japanese).

3. Please finish this statement: If I had not become a film-maker I would probably be a ________.

Super rich guy.

4. Which three people (besides film-makers) have had the biggest influence on you?

The Unabomber, Jiddu Krishnamurti, and Prince.

5. What is your favorite book? Why is it your favorite?

In Japanese literature, “Dokurohai” by Mitsuharu Kaneko. I read it recently and felt like it’s about me. In English, “Franny and Zooey” by JD Salinger. It is very beautiful.

6. What moment in your career has made you most proud so far?

When I catch that special moment during filming, you know?

Translation by Chikako Evans

Follow Toshiaki Toyoda on Twitter here.

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