Shinji Aoyama

Shinji Aoyama
Born (1964-07-13) July 13, 1964
Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan
Occupation Film director, screenwriter, composer, film critic, novelist
Spouse(s) Maho Toyota

Shinji Aoyama (青山 真治 Aoyama Shinji, born July 13, 1964)[1] is a Japanese film director, screenwriter, composer, film critic, and novelist. He graduated from Rikkyo University. He won two awards at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival for his film Eureka.[2]


Shinji Aoyama was born in Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan.[3] He began to be interested in cinema when he watched Apocalypse Now and he thought seriously about making films after watching Jean-Luc Godard's films such as Pierrot le Fou and Two or Three Things I Know About Her.[4] He graduated from Rikkyo University, where he was deeply influenced by the film critic Shigehiko Hasumi, from whom he took classes.[5]

After graduating, Aoyama worked as an assistant director to Swiss film director Daniel Schmid, Japanese director Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Icelandic director Fridrik Thor Fridriksson.[5] He made his directorial debut with the V-Cinema production It's Not in the Textbook! in 1995.[6]

In 1996, Aoyama made Helpless, which is his first feature film.[7] His 2000 film Eureka, also set in Fukuoka, opened at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival where it received both the FIPRESCI prize and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury.[8] Together with the 2007 film Sad Vacation, Eureka and Helpless comprise Aoyama's "Kitakyushu Saga."[9] In 2011, he returned with the romance film Tokyo Park, which won the special Golden Leopard award at the 64th Locarno International Film Festival to honor his whole career.[10] His next film, The Backwater, was released in 2013.[11]

Aoyama's literary output includes his 2001 novelization of Eureka, which won the Yukio Mishima Prize,[12] as well as the novel Hotel Chronicles, which was nominated for the Noma Literary Prize in 2005.[13] He has also contributed as a critic to Cahiers du Cinema Japon[14] and Esquire Japan.[15]

As of 2012, he became a professor in the Department of Moving Images and Performing Arts at Tama Art University.[16]

He is married to Japanese actress Maho Toyota, who played a leading role in Desert Moon.[4]

Style and influences

Mark Schilling of The Japan Times described Aoyama as "A smart, dedicated cinephile who works his influences into his films while experimenting with various genres".[17]

Aoyama stated that the origin of the desire to continue the story in "Kitakyushu Saga" is François Truffaut, a French film director who used the same character (Antoine Doinel) in some of his films.[18]

Aoyama listed F. W. Murnau's Faust and Nicholas Ray's Johnny Guitar as two of the Greatest Films of All Time in 2012. Regarding Faust he said, "I always want to remember that movies are made out of the joy of the replica. The fascination of movies is not their realism, but how to enjoy the 'real'. In that sense, I always have Faust in my mind as I face a movie, make a movie, and talk about a movie." Regarding Johnny Guitar he said, "Johnny Guitar is the only movie that I‘d like to remake someday, although I know that it’s impossible. It’s probably closest to the worst nightmare I can have. I know for sure that my desire to remake this movie comes from my warped thought that I want to remake my own nightmare."[19]


Fiction feature films

Fiction short films

Documentary feature films

Documentary short films







  1. "Shinji Aoyama - BFI - British Film Institute". British Film Institute. Retrieved September 28, 2013.
  2. Gerow, Aaron (2002). "Aoyama Shinji". In Tasker, Yvonne. Fifty Contemporary Filmmakers. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-18973-X.
  3. Brown, Todd (September 4, 2007). "Venice Report: Sad Vacation Review". Twitch Film.
  4. 1 2 Ollora Hoyos, María (March 29, 2009). "Aoyama Shinji In Paris (At Jeu De Paume): The Retrospective (Novembre – December 2008)".
  5. 1 2 "Special Screenings". 41st International Thessaloniki Film Festival. 2000.
  6. "Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia 2006 Jury and Awards". Short Shorts Film Festival. 2006.
  7. Schilling, Mark (September 7, 2007). "The king of Kita Kyushu". The Japan Times.
  8. Wilmington, Michael (May 22, 2000). "An International Pack Of Underdogs Have Their Day At The Cannes Film Festival". Chicago Tribune.
  9. Lee, Maggie (September 11, 2007). "Sad Vacation". The Hollywood Reporter.
  10. Young, Neil (14 August 2011). "Tokyo Park: Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter.
  11. Fujii, Jinshi (22 February 2013). "Blood and Transmigration - Shinji Aoyama's Tomogui (The Backwater)". Yomiuri Shimbun.
  12. "From the Japanese Press" (PDF). Japan Foundation Newsletter. 29 (1): 7. October 2001.
  13. "Aoyama Shinji". Nihon jinmei daijiten+Plus (in Japanese). Kōdansha. Retrieved 4 December 2012.
  14. Schilling, Mark (February 6, 2001). "Trauma in a sepia-tinged Kyushu". The Japan Times.
  15. "Shinji Aoyama". Premiere. January 3, 2012.
  16. 映画監督・青山真治教授就任 (in Japanese). Tama Art University. Retrieved 12 November 2013.
  17. Schilling, Mark (June 24, 2011). "'Tokyo Koen (Tokyo Park)'". The Japan Times.
  18. Aquino, Rowena (April 1, 2010). "Outside Inspirations: an interview with Shinji Aoyama". Asia Pacific Arts.
  19. Aoyama, Shinji (2012). "The Greatest Films Poll". Sight & Sound.
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