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Sion Sono (園 子温, Sono Shion, born December 18, 1961) is a Japanese filmmaker, author, and poet. Best known on the festival circuit for the film Love Exposure (2008), he has been called "the most subversive filmmaker working in Japanese cinema today".[1]

Sion Sono
Sono Shion (Love & Peace) at Opening Ceremony of the 28th Tokyo International Film Festival (21808669303).jpg
Born (1961-12-18) December 18, 1961 (age 57)
Toyokawa, Aichi, Japan
OccupationPoet, film director, screenwriter, cinematographer, film composer, actor
Spouse(s)Megumi Kagurazaka
Japanese name
Kanji園 子温
Hiraganaその しおん
Katakanaソノ シオン


After receiving a fellowship with the PIA, Sono made his first feature-length 16 mm film in 1990, Bicycle Sighs (Jitensha Toiki), a coming-of-age tale about two underachievers in perfectionist Japan. Sono co-wrote, directed, and starred in the film.[2]

In 1992, Sono wrote and directed his second feature film, The Room (Heya), a bizarre tale about a serial killer looking for a room in a bleak, doomed Tokyo district. It participated in the Tokyo Sundance Film Festival and won the Special Jury Prize.[citation needed] The Room also toured on 49 festivals worldwide, including the Berlin Film Festival and the Rotterdam Film Festival.[3]

In 2005, Sono wrote and directed Into a Dream (Yume no Naka e), a coming-of-age tale about the life of a theatre group member and his quest to find himself. Much in the style of Bicycle Sighs, the film was also later released as a novel. A few weeks after that, he released a sequel to Suicide Circle based on the Kanzenban novel. Sono also directed and wrote Noriko's Dinner Table, which took part in twelve film festivals worldwide. For this movie he worked with many first-time actors, and took the Suicide Circle story into a different level. For his efforts, he received a Don Quijote Award and a Special Mention at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival.

At the end of 2005, Sono also premiered a personal project with actors Issei Ishida and Masumi Miyazaki, Strange Circus (Kimyô na Sâkasu). Directed, written, composed, and cinematographed by Sono, it took elements from the Grand Guignol theater and a story from the minds of both Miyazaki and Sono, filled with incest, sexual abuse, terrible family issues, extreme gore, and a twisted sense of reality.[4]

In 2008, Sono directed and wrote Love Exposure. Love Exposure is the first film in Sono's "Hate" trilogy; the films Cold Fish, released in 2010, and Guilty of Romance, released in 2011, are the second and third installments of the trilogy respectively.[5] 2011 saw Sono be recognized in the United States with his work being highlighted in the cinema series Sion Sono: The New Poet presented at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City.[6][7]

In 2013 he directed the action-drama Why Don't You Play in Hell? (Jigoku de naze warui).[8] Following shortly after, he directed an adaptation of popular manga series Tokyo Tribe.[9]

His next project, which begins filming in March 2015, looks to be a documentary on the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, produced with avant-garde group Chimpom.[10]


In The Hollywood Reporter, Clarence Tsui writes that Sono has "established himself as one of the most idiosyncratic artists of his generation".[1] Often considered a provocateur, Mike Hale of The New York Times argues that he is "the most recognizable, if not the most universally celebrated, director in Japan", which Sono himself explains by stating (in Hale's words) that Japanese critics generally "reserve their approval for work that doesn’t 'embarrass' the nation." The director has said, "I do think an international audience understands my work more.”[11]


Sono received the following awards for his films:

Sono also received the following nominations for his films:

Recurring collaboratorsEdit


  • Love Song (1984) Director [Short film]
  • I Am Sion Sono!! (1985) Director, writer and actor [Short film]
  • A Man's Flower Road (1986) Director and writer
  • Love (1986) Director and writer [Short film]
  • Decisive Match! Boys Dorm vs Girls Dorm (1988) Director and writer
  • Bicycle Sighs (1990) Director, co-writer and actor
  • I Hate You... Not (1991) Actor
  • Heya: The Room (1992) Director and writer
  • Otaku (1994) Actor
  • Bad Film (1995) Director and writer
  • Keiko Dessukedo (I Am Keiko) (1997) Director and writer
  • Kaze (1998) Director and writer [Short film]
  • Dankon: The Man (1998) Director and writer
  • Utsushimi (1998) Director, writer and cinematographer
  • Depression Blot (1999) Director and writer
  • Blind Beast vs. Killer Dwarf (2000) Actor
  • Seigi no tatsujin: Nyotai tsubo saguri (2000) Director and writer
  • Suicide Club (2001) Director and writer
  • 0cm4 (2001) Director and writer [Short film]
  • Father's Day (2001) Director [Short film]
  • Prom Night (2002) Director
  • Chichi no Hi (2003) Director and writer
  • Nô-pantsu gâruzu: Movie box-ing2 : Otona ni Nattara (2004) Director and writer [Anthology]
  • Hazard (2005) Director and writer
  • Into a Dream (2005) Director and writer
  • Noriko's Dinner Table (2005) Director and writer
  • Strange Circus (2005) Director, writer, composer and cinematographer
  • Balloon Club, Afterwards (2006) Director and writer
  • Jikô keisatsu (2006) Director [TV show]
  • Exte (2007) Director and writer
  • Love Exposure (2008) Director and writer
  • Be Sure to Share (2009) Director and writer
  • Make the Last Wish (2009) Director
  • Cold Fish (2010) Director and co-writer
  • Guilty of Romance (2011) Director and writer
  • Himizu (2011) Director and writer
  • Kenkichi (2012) Director and writer
  • The Land of Hope (2012) Director and writer
  • Why Don't You Play in Hell? (2013) Director and writer
  • Minna! ESPer Dayo! (2013) Director and writer [TV series]
  • Venice 70: Future Reloaded (2013) Director [Anthology]
  • Tokyo Tribe (2014) Director and writer
  • All Esper Dayo! SP (2015) Director [TV Movie]
  • Shinjuku Swan (2015) Director
  • Love & Peace (2015) Director and writer
  • Tag (2015) Director and writer
  • The Whispering Star (2015) Director and writer
  • The Virgin Psychics (2015) Director and writer
  • Madly (2015) Director [Anthology]
  • Antiporno (2016) Director
  • Shinjuku Swan II (2017) Director
  • Tokyo Vampire Hotel (2017) Director and writer Amazon original series
  • The Bastard and the Beautiful World (2018) Director and writer
  • Prisoners of the Ghostland (2019) Director and writer
  • The Forest of Love (2019) Director and writer


  • Tokyo Gagaga (1993)
  • Furo de Yomu Gendai Shi Nyuumon (2000)
  • Jisatsu Saakuru: Kanzenban (2002)
  • Jikou Keisatsu (2002)
  • Yume no Naka e (2005)


  1. ^ a b Tsui, Clarence (July 29, 2016). "'The Sion Sono': Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 6, 2017.
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ "First Stills – Sion Sono's New Slasher Film: Coldfish". DreadCentral.
  5. ^ "'Suicide Club' Director Gets Behind Camera for 'Cold Fish'". BloodyDisgusting.
  6. ^ "Sion Sono: The New Poet". Museum of Arts and Design. Museum of Arts and Design. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  7. ^ Abrams, Simon. "Japanese filmmaker Sion Sono is not big on faith and family". Capital. Capital. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  8. ^ "Why Don't You Play in Hell? Dated for Home Video Release". BloodyDisgusting.
  9. ^ "Live-Action Tokyo Tribe Film's Trailer Features a Rap Battle". Anime News Network. August 20, 2014. Retrieved June 3, 2015.
  10. ^ "Cinema as Music – An Interview with Sion Sono". 4:3.
  11. ^ Hale, Mike (July 12, 2016). "At Japan Cuts Festival, Films by Sion Sono That Don't Fit His Bad-Boy Label". The New York Times. Retrieved February 14, 2017.
  12. ^ "19th Fantasia International Film Festival Announces 2015 Winners". IndieWire.
  13. ^ "19th Fantasia International Film Festival Announces 2015 Winners". IndieWire.
  14. ^ "19th Fantasia International Film Festival Announces 2015 Winners". IndieWire.
  15. ^ "Toronto International Film Festival Announces 2015 Award Winners" (PDF) (Press release). TIFF. 2015-09-20. Retrieved 2015-09-21.
  16. ^ "Sion Sono". IMDb. Retrieved 2018-11-14.

External linksEdit