Japanese actor Koji Yakusho, winner of Cannes’ best actor prize this year for his universally acclaimed performance in Wim Wenders’ Perfect Days, has been selected 2023 Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival’s filmmaker in focus.
Yakusho will attend the Taiwanese festival in person and present a selection of seven of his films during the event’s 17-day duration. The titles shown will include Perfect Days and the erotic classic Lost Paradise (1997), as well as five titles selected by Yakusho himself, including Kamikaze Taxi (1995), Shall We Dance (1996), Cure (1997), Eureka (2000) and The Woodsman and the Rain (2011).
“With these seven films, cinephiles will be able to witness the charm and versatile acting of a legendary actor,” Taipei’s organizers said in a statement.
Across his four-decade career, Yakusho has been nominated for the Japan Academy of Film Prize 23 times, including seven consecutive nominations in the best leading actor category, which he has won three times, as well as one best supporting actor win.
Yakusho first made a name for himself in Japan via a series of performances in taiga drama (Japanese historical dramas set during the age of the samurai), along with a breakout film role in Juzo Itami’s classic comedy Tampopo. He first attracted widespread critical acclaim from director Masato Harda’s Kamikaze Taxi with a brilliant portrayal of a taxi driver trapped between politicians and mafia gangs, which won him the best actor trophy at Japan’s Mainichi Film Awards.
He first came to the attention of international audiences in 1996 with Shall We Dance? — Richard Gere reprised his role in a 2004 U.S. remake — which he followed by starring in the 1997 Palme d’Or winner The Eel, directed by the late, great Shohei Imamura. In the mid-2000s he memorably appeared in two Hollywood productions: Rob Marshall’s Memoirs of a Geisha (2005) and Babel (2006), directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.
Perfect Days looks poised to be another breakout moment for Yakusho. The Hollywood Reporter‘s critic summed the film up at Cannes as “ineffably lovely,” writing Wim Wenders ends his eloquent and emotionally rich Japanese drama, Perfect Days, with [a shot] held tight on the extraordinarily expressive face of Koji Yakusho as his character drives through Tokyo reflecting on the rewards and perhaps also the regrets of his life with the same spirit of openness and acceptance, embracing the sadness as much as the joy.”
The film was acquired for North American release at Cannes by specialty distributor Neon, which will release it sometime this fall. It is Japan’s submission to the Oscars for the best international film category.
The 2023 Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival runs Nov. 9-26 and will open with the world premiere of two local Taiwanese titles: Snow in Midsummer, directed by Chong Keat-aun, a former best new director prize winner at the event; and Be With Me, by Hwarng Wern-ying, who previously took home prizes at the festival for best art direction, costume and makeup. The event will close with Tales of Taipei, an omnibus film comprised of ten stories by directors from across East Asia.