Shinji Aoyama

Shinji Aoyama (青山 真治, Aoyama Shinji, 13 July 1964 – 21 March 2022)[1] was 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
Born(1964-07-13)13 July 1964
Died21 March 2022(2022-03-21) (aged 57)
Tokyo, Japan
Occupation(s)Film director, screenwriter, composer, film critic, novelist
(m. 2002)


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

Style and influencesEdit

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 filmsEdit

Fiction short filmsEdit

  • Trunk (2003)
  • The Detective Who Can Say No (2003)
  • Like a Desperado Under the Eaves (2003)
  • Days in the Shade (2003)
  • Le Petit Chaperon Rouge (2008)
  • 60 Seconds of Solitude in Year Zero (segment) (2011)

Documentary feature filmsEdit

  • To the Backstreet: The Films Kenji Nakagami Left Out (2001)
  • Song of Ajima (2003)
  • AA (2005)

Documentary short filmsEdit

  • 1/5 (1996) (8 min, from omnibus film Celebrate Cinema 101)
  • To the Alley (2000)
  • Down (2010)


  • It's Not in the Textbook! (1995)
  • A Weapon in My Heart (1996)
  • 12 June 1998 (1999) – also known as At the Edge of Chaos
  • So as Not to Say Everything About Her Already Aged Self (2001)


  • The Jesus of the Ruins (2001)
  • The Private Detective Mike (2002)
  • D x Town (episode "Spiders Now") (2012)
  • 4 for Flowers (2013)
  • Shokuzai no Sonata (mini-series, 4 episodes) (2015)



  • Eureka (2000)
  • Tsuki no Sabaku (2002)
  • Helpless (2002)
  • Hotel Chronicles (2005)
  • Shi no Tani '95 (2005)
  • Ugetsu Monogatari (2006)
  • Sad Vacation (2006)
  • Entertainment! (2007)
  • Chikyu no Ue de Visa mo Naku (2009)
  • Kaerimichi ga Kieta (2010)
  • Strange Face (2010)


  • Lost in America (2000)
  • Wim Wenders (2000)
  • Ware Eiga o Hakken Seri (2001)
    • Aoyama, Shinji (2015). "Nouvelle Vague Manifesto; or, How I Became a Disciple of Philippe Garrel". Lola Journal. (English translation of chapter from Ware Eiga o Hakken Seri)
  • Aoyama Shinji to Abe Kazushige to Nakahara Masaya no Cine-con! (2004)
  • Cinema 21 (2010)
  • Eiga Nagabanashi (2011)


  1. ^ "映画監督の青山真治氏死去 57歳、食道癌で闘病 妻のとよた真帆「最後は眠るように…」" (in Japanese). Sports Nippon. Retrieved 25 March 2022.
  2. ^ Gerow, Aaron (2002). "Aoyama Shinji". In Tasker, Yvonne (ed.). Fifty Contemporary Filmmakers. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-18973-X.
  3. ^ Brown, Todd (4 September 2007). "Venice Report: Sad Vacation Review". Twitch Film. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016.
  4. ^ a b Ollora Hoyos, María (29 March 2009). "Aoyama Shinji In Paris (At Jeu De Paume): The Retrospective (Novembre – December 2008)".
  5. ^ a b "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 (7 September 2007). "The king of Kita Kyushu". The Japan Times.
  8. ^ Wilmington, Michael (22 May 2000). "An International Pack Of Underdogs Have Their Day At The Cannes Film Festival". Chicago Tribune.
  9. ^ Lee, Maggie (11 September 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. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 January 2013.
  13. ^ "Aoyama Shinji". Nihon jinmei daijiten+Plus (in Japanese). Kōdansha. Retrieved 4 December 2012.
  14. ^ Schilling, Mark (6 February 2001). "Trauma in a sepia-tinged Kyushu". The Japan Times.
  15. ^ "Shinji Aoyama". Premiere. 3 January 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 (24 June 2011). "'Tokyo Koen (Tokyo Park)'". The Japan Times.
  18. ^ Aquino, Rowena (1 April 2010). "Outside Inspirations: an interview with Shinji Aoyama". Asia Pacific Arts.
  19. ^ Aoyama, Shinji (2012). "The Greatest Films Poll". Sight & Sound. Archived from the original on 27 August 2012.
  20. ^ "青山真治7年ぶりの長編映画で多部未華子が主演、岸井ゆきのや岩田剛典ら共演". Natalie. Retrieved 24 August 2020.

External linksEdit