Photo of Shohei Imamura Shohei Imamura

Born Sept. 15, 1926, in Tokyo, Shohei Imamura once stated that he was "interested in people: strong, greedy, humorous, deceitful people" -- a viewpoint that's abundantly evident in the director's impressive body of work.

Imamura enrolled in technical college to avoid being drafted in World War II, shifting his focus to playwriting and filmmaking after the war ended. Part of the Japanese New Wave, Imamura made his directorial debut in 1958 with Stolen Desire. But it was with his 1961 gangster farce Pigs and Battleships that he hit his stride and began to focus on the fringe figures, strong women and messy characters that would come to characterize his work.

After spending much of the 1970s making documentaries, Imamura returned to features during his later years, winning the Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or for both The Ballad of Narayama (1983) and Unagi (1997). He died on May 30, 2006.

Shohei Imamura in Black Rain

Black Rain

1989 NR

Yasuko (Yoshiko Tanaka) and her family contend with radiation-induced illness and their positions as social outcasts in postwar Japan after surviving America's 1945 atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima. Will Yasuko be able to find a man who'll marry her? Japanese writer-director Shohei Imamura's irony-rich film, which is based on Ibuse Masuji's novel, also stars Kazuo Kitamura, Etsuko Ichihara and Shoichi Ozawa.

  • Shohei Imamura in Pigs and Battleships Pigs and Battleships
  • Shohei Imamura in The Insect Woman The Insect Woman
  • Shohei Imamura in Vengeance Is Mine Vengeance Is Mine
  • Shohei Imamura in The Ballad of Narayama The Ballad of Narayama
  • Shohei Imamura in Warm Water Under a Red Bridge Warm Water Under a Red Bridge
  • Shohei Imamura in September 11 September 11
  • Shohei Imamura in Intentions of Murder Intentions of Murder
  • Shohei Imamura in The Pornographers The Pornographers
  • Shohei Imamura in 2009 Lost Memories 2009 Lost Memories