Koji Fukada

Reality in cinema is the superimposition of a certain number of lies that makes things realistic.

Koji Fukada films the loneliness of humans in the face of death with a gentleness that evokes the cinema of Eric Rohmer. Like his compatriot Ryusuke Hamaguchi, he embodies a new generation of Japanese film makers who willingly mix art forms.

Published on 19/03/2020

2 min

After studying at the Tokyo Film School where he studied under film maker Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Koji Fukada immediately began making self-produced feature films such as The Chair in 2002. These films, rarely shown in Japan or around the world, are sketches of what his cinema would become.

At the same time, he joined Oriza Hirata’s theatre troupe and directed La Grenadière (The Grenadier, 2006), a concept film adapted from Balzac’s novel in which he mixed painting with animation.

This taste for formal experimentation and the mixing of genres can be found throughout a work that moves from naturalistic comedy (Hospitalité or Hospitality, 2010) to the psychological thriller (Harmonium, 2016), including the futuristic and melancholic film (Sayonara, 2015).

Koji Fukada's films are bound by two recurring themes: family and the “memento mori”, the motif of Western thought that highlights the fleetingness of earthly life. Hospitalité and Harmonium thus examine, in their own way, the dysfunctions of family units faced with an unexpected presence, whether this is a stranger or a ghost of the past.

Alongside these works, a delicate chronicle such as Day for Night (2013) embarks on a reflection on the loneliness of people awaiting death. This motif is extended in an elegiac style by Sayonara, set behind closed doors and to the backdrop of a nuclear accident, adapted from a play by Oriza Hirata.

Appearing on the international scene in the early 2010s with the success of Hospitalité at the Tokyo International Festival, Koji Fukada was soon seen as one of the leaders of a new generation of Japanese film makers capable of succeeding the great film makers Naomi Kawase and Hirokazu Kore-eda.

This global recognition was confirmed at the Festival des Trois Continents in Nantes, which awarded the Montgolfière d'Or Prize to Day for Night in 2013.

The numerous references to Balzac, Rimbaud and the universe of Éric Rohmer, one of Koji Fukada’s role models, make his cinema more familiar to Western audiences.


  • 1999


    Koji Fukada joins the Tokyo Film School where he studies under film makers Shinji Aoyama and Kiyoshi Kurosawa.

  • 2002


    He directs his first film, The Chair, which was self-financed with a budget of a few thousand euros.

  • 2005


    Koji Fukada becomes assistant director with the Seinenden theatre troupe. He recruits many of his favourite actors for his films.

  • 2010


    His film Hospitalité wins the award for Best Film in the “Japanese Eye” section at the Tokyo International Film Festival.

  • 2016


    His sixth film, Harmonium, is selected at the Cannes Film Festival. He wins the Jury Prize for “Un certain regard” (“A Certain Look”).

The Institut français and the film

A Girl Missing, by Koji Fukada (2019) was supported by the Aide aux cinémas du monde fund in 2018. This Institut français programme provides support to foreign film-makers for film projects co-produced with France, whether they be feature-length fiction, animated films or creative documentaries. Find out more about the Aide aux cinémas du monde programme

L'institut français, LAB