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Koji Yakusho Attending HIFF 2012!

The Hawaii International Film Festival Presented By Halekulani Welcomes Japanese Superstar Koji Yakusho, ‘Japan’s Leading Man’

Yakusho Will Accept Career Achievement Award and will be present with one of his latest films, THE WOODSMAN AND THE RAIN


HONOLULU, HI — (September 28, 2012) – The Hawaii International Film Festival (HIFF) presented by Halekulani is proud to bring Japanese actor Koji Yakusho to Hawaii to honor him with the Festival’s Career Achievement Award.

“As a mainstay of Japanese cinema, as well as the Festival, we are honored to host Mr. Yakusho and honor him at this year’s HIFF,” says Chuck Boller, the Festival’s Executive Director. “He is truly Japan’s leading man, a mad talent and daring actor who vacillates from art house to commercial fare with such ease.”

Yakusho will also be present at the first screening of his film. THE WOODSMAN AND THE RAIN, directed by Shuichi Okita. The screening will take place on Sunday, October 14 at 7:30 PM at the Regal Dole Cannery Stadium 18 Theatres. The actor will be presented with the Career Achievement Award before the screening, to recognize his illustrious and impressive 30 years of acting.

“HIFF has shown well over 15 films starring or co-starring Mr. Yakusho, making him one of the most recognized and prominent actors in our Japanese cinema section over the years,” says Anderson Le, HIFF’s director of programming. He adds, “In the last seven years alone, we’ve shown at least one film with Koji Yakusho in it, from BABEL in 2006 as the Festival’s Opening Night, to last year’s sleeper hit, CHRONICLE OF MY MOTHER, to this year, the critically acclaimed THE WOODSMAN AND THE RAIN. It is apropos to present Mr. Yakusho with the Career Achievement Award.”

The Career Achievement Award, given to an actor of great distinction, is specially designed by HIFF sponsor Tiffany & Co. Over the past two centuries, Tiffany & Co. has built an international reputation as the ultimate source of gifts for life’s most cherished occasions. Hawaii International Film Festival (HIFF) is proud to have Tiffany & Co.’s beautiful crystal pieces as the official awards. Previous recipients of the Career Achievement Award were: Maggie Cheung, Samuel L. Jackson, Ken Watanabe, and Joan Chen.


Koji Yakusho’s Official Biography

Koji Yakusho’s first big breakthrough came in 1978 when ’60s actor and icon Tatsuya Nakadai selected him and 3 others out of 800 applicants to study at the Mumei-juku (“Studio for Unknown Performers”). In reference to his experience as a civil servant, Nakadai gave him the stage name “Yakusho”, which means either “municipal office” or “acting versatility.” In 1986, he played the nameless “Man in the White Suit”, who gleefully transgresses all social norms in some of the most memorable scenes of Juzo Itami’s TAMPOPO (1985). Yakusho’s passionate acting earned him much praise, and in 1998 he received a special award from the Japan Minister of Education, Science, Sports and Culture extolling his phenomenal contribution to Japanese culture.

In the mid-90s, Yakusho’s rise to superstardom seemed irresistible. Masayuki Suo’s SHALL WE DANCE? (1996), an instant classic, spurred a Japan-wide fascination with dance. The following year, THE EEL won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, and Yoshimitsu Morita’s erotic drama A LOST PARADISE was the second largest-grossing film at the Japanese box office. In cult favorite CURE (1997), directed by celebrated auteur Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Yakusho went on to play a cop pushed to the edge of the abyss by his search for a string of seemingly unconnected murders. Several collaborations with Kurosawa followed, to international acclaim (LICENSE TO LIVE and CHARISMA). His performance in Shohei Imamura’s WARM WATER UNDER THE RED BRIDGE earned him the award for Best Actor at the Chicago International Film Festival in 2001.

After featuring in Rob Marshall’s MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA (2005) and Alejandro Iñárritu’s BABEL (2006), Yakusho gained international recognition and a new wave of international admirers. In addition to acting, Yakusho made his début behind the camera with TOAD’S OIL in 2009.

In June 2012, Yakusho received the Medal with Purple Ribbon from the Emperor of Japan for “outstanding achievement in the creative field. In July Yakusho’s starring films were screened at JAPAN CUTS, a New York film festival of Japanese contemporary cinema, organized by Japan Society, and Yakusho was awarded CUTS ABOVE for his contribution to Japanese films. In October TSUI NO SHINTAKU, a film directed by Masayuki Suo will open nationwide in Japan.


Film Synopsis

Hawaii Premiere
Japan | 129 M | Regal Dole Cannery

Sunday, October 14, 7:30 PM
Tuesday, October 16, 9:15 PM

Katsu, a 60 year-old lumberjack and widower (Koji Yakusho), lives in a small, tranquil village in the mountains. When a film crew suddenly arrives to shoot a zombie movie, Katsu finds himself unwittingly roped into assisting the production and is increasing frustrated by the pushy crew, especially the young, seemingly spineless director Koichi (Shun Oguri, BOYS OVER FLOWERS, CROWS ZERO).

However, an improbable friendship soon develops between Katsu and Koichi, as Katsu comes to see joy in the filmmaking process, and gradually helps Koichi to recover his sense of self. Soon, their bond inspires an unusual collaboration between the villagers and the film crew.

Actor Koji Yakusho has an illustrious filmography and is one of the most revered actors working in Japan today. Ranging from SHALL WE DANCE? To THIRTEEN ASSASSINS, to western fare like BABEL and MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA, Yakusho’s performance as lonely lumberjack Katsu is played with the right mix of ennui, authority and small town naiveté.

Sponsored by: Hawaiian Airlines, Nippon Golden Network

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