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 Pigs and Battleships

Pigs and Battleships

1961 NR

Filmmaker Shohei Imamura lifts the veil on the seedier side of life in 1960s Japan with this comedic portrait of a dim, misguided Yokohama hustler turned gang member (Hiroyuki Nagato) whose responsibilities include the care and feeding of black market swine. Jitsuko Yoshimura co-stars as his newly pregnant girlfriend, a simple barmaid whose mother would rather see her become a well-paid prostitute.

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