Ryusuke Hamaguchi (濱口 竜介, Hamaguchi Ryūsuke, [hamaꜜɡɯtɕi ɾʲɯꜜːsɯ̥ke] ⓘ; born 16 December 1978) is a Japanese film director and screenwriter. An alumnus of the University of Tokyo and the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, he started gaining attention in his home country with the graduate film Passion (2008).
Hamaguchi first gained international recognition with the film Happy Hour (2015) and continued with Asako I & II (2018). In 2021, he released two films, Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy and Drive My Car; for the latter he received two Academy Awards nominations, for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. He is the third Japanese director to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Director.
After graduating from the University of Tokyo, Hamaguchi worked in the commercial film industry for a few years before entering the graduate program in film at Tokyo University of the Arts where he studied with and was influenced by Kiyoshi Kurosawa. His graduation film Passion was selected for the competition of the 2008 Tokyo Filmex.
With Kō Sakai, he made a three-part documentary about survivors of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, with Voices from the Waves being selected for the competition at the 2013 Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival, and Storytellers winning the Sky Perfect IDEHA Prize.
His next film, Happy Hour, was first developed while Hamaguchi was an artist in residence at KIITO Design and Creative Center Kobe in 2013. It came out of an improvisational acting workshop he held for non-professionals, with many of the film's performers having participated in the workshop. The four lead actresses shared the best actress award and the film earned a special mention for its script at the 2015 Locarno Film Festival. Hamaguchi was also given a special jury award at the 2016 Japan Movie Critic Awards, as well as a best newcomer award in the film division of the Agency for Cultural Affairs' Geijutsu Sensho Awards that year.
In 2021, Hamaguchi won the Silver Bear award at the Berlinale with his Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy. That same year his Drive My Car won Best Picture awards from the New York Film Critics Circle, Boston Society of Film Critics, and Los Angeles Film Critics Association as well as "Best Motion Picture - Non-English Language" at the Golden Globes. Hamaguchi was nominated for an Oscar for Best Director for Drive My Car, becoming the third Japanese director to accomplish this feat.
Influences and style
- "To some extent, all films are fiction and documentary at the same time. I have experienced to make both, and I believe there is no such thing as pure fiction or pure documentary."
- "The actor is acting in front of the camera. What the camera captures there is a documentary about the actors, because they're doing something which happens only once."
- (On the multilingual staging in Drive My Car) "In a multilingual staging, of course, they're not understanding the meaning of the words. Instead, the body language and the voice tones is what becomes more important to convey those feelings or the emotional state of the respective actors. It becomes easier to focus and react. That's a nice way I look at it to get a more simple and strong performance."
- (On the ending of Drive My Car) "Once I talked with a big fan of Drive My Car who said that it really would have been perfect without that ending. (Laugh) Well, I think maybe the reason I ended that way is to make it a bit imperfect." "In terms of the final staging of the play in applause, if I had ended the movie at that point, presumably the audience would want to do a round of applause, and it would almost be like closing of a full circle. But for me that didn't really feel like a satisfying ending. I wanted to do something a bit more disruptive, to leave some sort of break."
- (On the ending of Drive My Car) "I have no any plans of making a sequel, but I was just sort of playing around with things at the end there. One other thing I'd like to say is that the title itself also might give a clue to how you can interpret the ending."
|Year||Title||Original title||Director||Writer||Length (min)||Notes|
|2001||Go to the Movies||映画を見に行く||Yes||Yes||8||Short film|
|2003||Like Nothing Happened ||何食わぬ顔||Yes||Yes||98||Short version 43 min|
|2005||The Beginning||はじまり||Yes||Yes||13||Short film|
|Friend of the Night||Yes||Yes||44||Short film|
|2006||Scent of Memory||記憶の香り||Yes||No||28||Short film|
|2008||PASSION ||Yes||Yes||115||Graduation work at The Tokyo University of the Arts|
|2009||I Love Thee For Good ||永遠に君を愛す||Yes||No||58|
|2010||The Depths||Yes||Yes||121||Co-written by Kôta Ôura|
|2011||The Sound of the Waves ||東北記録映画三部作 なみのおと||Yes||No||142||Documentary; co-directed by Ko Sakai|
|2013||Voices from the Waves - Kesennuma ||東北記録映画三部作 なみのこえ 気仙沼||Yes||No||109||Documentary; co-directed by Ko Sakai|
|Voices from the Waves - Shinchi-machi ||東北記録映画三部作 なみのこえ 新地町||Yes||No||103||Documentary; co-directed by Ko Sakai|
|Storytellers ||東北記録映画三部作 うたうひと||Yes||No||120||Documentary; co-directed by Ko Sakai|
|Intimacies ||親密さ||Yes||Yes||255||Short version 136 min|
|Touching the Skin of Eeriness ||不気味なものの肌に触れる||Yes||No||54|
|2015||Happy Hour||ハッピーアワー||Yes||Yes||317||Co-written by Tadashi Nohara and Tomoyuki Takahashi|
|2016||Heaven Is Still Far Away ||天国はまだ遠い||Yes||Yes||38||Short film|
|2018||Asako I & II||寝ても覚めても||Yes||Yes||119||Co-written by Sachiko Tanaka|
|2020||Wife of a Spy||スパイの妻||No||Yes||115|
|2021||Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy||偶然と想像||Yes||Yes||121|
|Drive My Car||ドライブ・マイ・カー||Yes||Yes||179||Co-written by Takamasa Oe|
|2023||Evil Does Not Exist||悪は存在しない||Yes||Yes||106|
|2015||Nantes Three Continents Festival||Le prix du public||Happy Hour||Won|||
|2021||Berlin International Film Festival||Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize||Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy||Won|||
|Cannes Film Festival||Best Screenplay||Drive My Car||Won|||
|Prize of the Ecumenical Jury||Won|
|New York Film Critics Circle||Best Picture||Won|||
|Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association||Best International / Foreign Language Film||Won|||
|Boston Society of Film Critics||Best Film||Won|||
|Los Angeles Film Critics Association||Best Picture||Won|||
|2022||Academy Awards||Best Picture||Nominated|
|Best Adapted Screenplay||Nominated|
|Best International Feature Film||Won|
|National Society of Film Critics Awards||Best Film||Won|||
|2023||Asian Film Awards||Best Director||Nominated|||
|Venice International Film Festival||Golden Lion||Evil Does Not Exist||Nominated|
|Grand Jury Prize||Won|
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