Top 100 Asian Directors

Directors from Japan (30), China/Hong-Kong/Taiwan (24), India (10), Iran/Persia (9), Korea (6), Turkey (6), Palestine (5), Israel (4), Philippines (2), Thailand (2) and Vietnam.
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1.
Yu Sun
Director, Dalu
 
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Teinosuke Kinugasa
Director, Gate of Hell
Former female impersonator who entered films in 1917 as an actor, turned to directing in 1922 and made some of the most formally brilliant Japanese films of the following decades. The few of Kinugasa's early works to have reached the West betray a highly mature, sophisticated talent. His best-known silent films are _Kurutta Ippeji (1926)_...
 
7.
Kenji Mizoguchi
Director, Ugetsu
Coming from a lower class family Mizoguchi entered the production company Nikkatsu as an actor specialized in female roles. Later he became an assistant director and made his first film in 1922. Although he filmed almost 90 movies in the silent era, only his last 12 productions are really known outside of Japan because they were especially produced for Venice (e.g...
 
8.
Yasujirô Ozu
Director, Tokyo Story
Tokyo-born Yasujiro Ozu was a movie buff from childhood, often playing hooky from school in order to see Hollywood movies in his local theatre. In 1923 he landed a job as a camera assistant at Shochiku Studios in Tokyo. Three years later, he was made an assistant director and directed his first film the next year...
 
9.
Akira Kurosawa
Writer, Yojimbo
After training as a painter (he storyboards his films as full-scale paintings), Kurosawa entered the film industry in 1936 as an assistant director, eventually making his directorial debut with Sanshiro Sugata. Within a few years, Kurosawa had achieved sufficient stature to allow him greater creative freedom...
 
10.
Mikio Naruse
Director, Ukigumo
 
11.
Satyajit Ray
Satyajit Ray was born in Calcutta on May second, 1921. His father, Sukumar Ray was an eminent poet and writer in the history of Bengali literature. In 1940, after receiving his degree in science and economics from Calcutta University, he attended Tagore's Viswa-Bharati University. His first movie Pather Panchali won several International Awards and set Ray as a world-class director...
 
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Guru Dutt
Actor, Pyaasa
Considered to be a man ahead of his time, Guru Dutt was one of the greatest icons of commercial Indian cinema. Although he made less than fifty films, they are believed to be the best to come from Bollywood's Golden Age, known both for their ability to reach out to the common man and for their artistic and lyrical content...
 
14.
Kon Ichikawa
Kon Ichikawa has been influenced by artists as diverse as Walt Disney and Jean Renoir, and his films cover a wide spectrum of moods, from the comic to the overwhelmingly ironic and even the perverse. Ichikawa began his career as a cartoonist, and this influence is apparent in his skillful use of the widescreen...
 
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Ki-young Kim
Director, Hanyo
 
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21.
Hiroshi Teshigahara
Hiroshi Teshigahara was born the son of Sofu Teshigahara who was the founder of the Sogetsu School of Ikebana (flower arrangement). In 1950, he graduated from the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music in oil painting. In 1958, he became the director of Sogetsu Art Centre and took a leading role in avant-garde activities in many fields of art...
 
23.
Cheh Chang
Chang Cheh was the leading Martial Arts director in Hong Kong in the 1970s, now with close to 100 films to his name. His has influenced other directors such as John Woo and Liu Chiau Liang, and made famous such Hong Kong stars as Phillip Chung-Fung Kwok, Fu Sheng and Lung Ti. Chang has declared that he will stop working after he has made his 101st film...
 
24.
Seijun Suzuki
Director, Branded to Kill
Seijun Suzuki was born in Nihonbashi, Tôkyô, on May 24, 1923. In 1943, he entered the army to fight at the front. In 1946, he enrolled in the film department of the Kamakura Academy and passed the assistant director's exam. For the next few years, he worked as an assistant director at several studios...
 
26.
Toshio Matsumoto
A 1955 graduate of Tokyo University, Toshio Matsumoto is a pioneer of avant-garde experimental movies, multimedia, and video in his homeland and abroad. His first experimental short was _Song of the Stones (1963)_. His most famous work is 1969's wildly experimental _Funeral Parade of Roses_, notorious in japan for its homosexual imagery...
 
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King Hu
Director, Xia nü
He was educated in art school in Beijing, left China for Hong Kong in 1949 and entered the film industry in 1951 in the art department. In the 1950s he began acting and in 1958 joined Shaw Brothers as an actor and writer, and later a director. In 1967 he left to start his own studio in Taiwan, returned to Hong Kong in 1970s, working in Hong Kong, Taiwan and China before his death.
 
32.
Lino Brocka
Director, Insiang
Lino Brocka is a Philippine director who gained attention in the international film community for his films about the Marcos dictatorship. He's is most famous for the film Insiang which was well received in Cannes.
 
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Shûji Terayama
Terayama Shuji was born the only son of Terayama Hachiro and Terayama Hatsu in Hirosaki City, Aomori on December 10th, 1935; but his birth and name were officially registered on January 10th, 1936. His father, an officer in the "thought police", leaves for the Pacific War in early 1941. He dies in September of 1945 of dysentery on the Indonesian island of Celebes...
 
39.
Shôhei Imamura
Director, The Eel
Imamura's father was a doctor. During the war, his father could not be drafted but his two brothers were. As a result, his eldest brother got killed in action. Imamura spent his youth in the middle of small-time hoods and prostitutes at a time when black market was rampant. He later enrolled in a technical school in Tokyo which he left for the Waseda university where...
 
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Yilmaz Güney
Writer, Yol
Güney and his work were almost entirely unknown outside of his homeland Turkey until his 1981 escape from imprisonment in Turkey and his "discovery" the following year at the Cannes Film Festival for his autobiographical screenplay for Yol, the festival's grand prize winner. Born in 1937 in a village near the southern city of Adana...
 
42.
Serif Gören
Director, Yol
 
43.
Ann Hui
Director, Tou ze
Born in China in 1947, Ann Hui moved to Hong Kong when whe was still in her youth. After graduating in English and Comparative Litereature from Hong Kong University, whe spent two years at London Film School. Returning to Hong Kong, she worked as an assistant to director King Hu before joining TVB to direct drama series and short documentaries...
 
44.
Nagisa Ôshima
Born in Kyoto, Japan. Studied law at Kyoto University. After graduation, joined the Shochiku Film Company in 1954 as an assistant director.
 
45.
Amos Gitai
Director, September 11
Born in Haifa in 1950, as the second son of architect Munio Weinraub and former Sionist activist Efratia Margalit. On the year of his birth, his parents changed the family name to "Gitai", which is the Hebrew translation of the German name "Weinraub". While he was a student in architecture, Amos Gitai joined the Yom Kippur war in 1973 as a reserve duty officer...
 
46.
Jûzô Itami
Director, Tampopo
A tragic end belies a life led with purpose. The son of a successful filmmaker, Juzo Itami made his name acting in television and films before making a late career shift into screenwriting and directing at age 50. Known to choose the subjects of his films through everyday observations, he often followed...
 
47.
Hark Tsui
Producer, Wong Fei Hung
Tsui Hark recently became the fourth Chinese film director to join the board of judges for the 57th Cannes Film Festival in the feature films category this year. An internationally acclaimed visionary director, Hark started making experimental movies with 8mm film when he was only 13. After graduating from the University of Texas in Austin...
 
50.
Ketan Mehta
Ketan Mehta is one of the most internationally acknowledged filmmakers from India. He has a received many National and International awards for his well-known films like 'The Rising - Ballad of Mangal Pandey', 'Mirch Masala', 'Maya Memsaab', 'Sardar', 'Holi' and 'Bhavni Bhavai'. Received Best Film on Human Rights for Bhavni Bhavai...
 
51.
Katsuhiro Ôtomo
Writer, Akira
Began to work as an animation artist in 1973.
 
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John Woo
Director, Face/Off
Born in southern China, John Woo grew up in Hong Kong, where he began his film career as an assistant director in 1969, working for Shaw Brothers Studios. He directed his first feature in 1973 and has been a prolific director ever since, working in a wide variety of genres before A Better Tomorrow established...
 
54.
Zhuangzhuang Tian
Director, Lan feng zheng
Tian is a former cameraman and graduate of the Beijing Film Academy. Due to controvery caused by some of his films, post-production on The Blue Kite had to be completed outside his homeland China.
 
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Ming-liang Tsai
Born in Kuching, Malaysia, he graduated from the Drama and Cinema Department of the Chinese Cultural University of Taiwan and worked as a theatrical producer and TV director. His second feature film, Vive L'Amour, won the Golden Lion (best picture) at the 1994 Venice Film Festival. His idiosyncratic oeuvre continues to enthrall audiences worldwide.
 
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Takeshi Kitano
Takeshi Kitano originally studied to become an engineer, but was thrown out of school for rebellious behavior. He learned comedy, singing and dancing from famed comedian Senzaburô Fukami. Working as a lift boy on a nightclub with such features as comic sketches and striptease dancing, Kitano saw his chance when a comedian suddenly fell ill...
 
61.
Kar-Wai Wong
Wong Kar-wai (born 17 July 1956) is a Hong Kong Second Wave filmmaker, internationally renowned as an auteur for his visually unique, highly stylised, emotionally resonant work, including Ah fei zing zyun (1990), Dung che sai duk (1994), Chung Hing sam lam (1994), Do lok tin si (1995), Chun gwong cha sit (1997)...
 
62.
Abbas Kiarostami
Abbas Kiarostami was born in Tehran, Iran, in 1940. He graduated from university with a degree in fine arts before starting work as a graphic designer. He then joined the Center for Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults, where he started a film section, and this started his career as a filmmaker at the age of 30...
 
64.
Karan Johar
A close friend of Shahrukh Khan, he assisted Yash Chopra's Yash Raj Films during the early days of of his career, making his directorial debut with the mega-hit Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. He also had a popular chat show named Koffee with Karan The success of "KKHH" made him one of the most high-profile directors in the Hindi-language Mumbai Film industry, popularly known as Bollywood...
 
65.
Takashi Miike
Takashi Miike was born in the small town of Yao on the outskirts of Osaka, Japan. His main interest growing up was motorbikes, and for a while he harbored ambitions to race professionally. At the age of 18 he went to study at the film school in Yokohama founded by renowned director Shôhei Imamura, primarily because there were no entrance exams...
 
66.
Majid Majidi
Majid Majidi was born on April 17, 1959 in Tehran, Iran to a middle class family. He started acting in amateur theater groups at the age of fourteen. After receiving his high school diploma, he started studying art at the Institute of Dramatic Art in Tehran. After the Islamic Revolution of 1979, his interest in cinema brought him to act in various films...
 
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Edward Yang
Writer, Yi Yi
Born on November 6, 1947 in Shanghai, China, Edward Yang has become one of the most talented international filmmakers of his generation. Along with Hou Hsiao-Hsien and Tsai Ming-Liang, Yang ranks among the leading artists of the Taiwanese New Wave, and one of the world's most brilliant auteurs. Growing up in Taipei...
 
69.
Ki-duk Kim
He studied fine arts in Paris in 1990-1992. In 1993 he won the award for Best Screenplay from the Educational Institute of Screenwriting with "A Painter and A Criminal Condemned to Death". After two more screenplay awards, he made his directorial debut with Crocodile. Then he went on to direct Wild Animals...
 
70.
Hayao Miyazaki
Director, Spirited Away
Hayao Miyazaki is one of Japan's greatest animation directors. The entertaining plots, compelling characters, and breathtaking animation in his films have earned him international renown from critics as well as public recognition within Japan. The Walt Disney Company's commitment to introduce the films...
 
71.
Mira Nair
Director, Monsoon Wedding
Accomplished Film Director/Writer/Producer Mira Nair was born in India and educated at Delhi University and at Harvard. She began her film career as an actor and then turned to directing award-winning documentaries, including So Far From India and India Cabaret. Her debut feature film, Salaam Bombay...
 
72.
Kwon-taek Im
Director, Painted Fire
Born in Changsong, Cheollanam-do, 2 May 1936. He grew up in the southern city Kwangju, where he completed senior high school. His family suffered considerable hardships and losses in the Korean War, so he had to move to Pusan in search of work: he was a labourer before trying to start a business recycling US Army boots into shoes...
 
73.
Yôji Yamada
Yamada Yoji graduated Tokyo University in 1954, the year he joined Shochiku as an assistant director. In 1969, he launched the popular "Tora-san" series, the world's longest theatrical film series. "The Twilight Samurai" (The Twilight Samurai) marks his 77th film as well as his 41th year as a director since his first film in 1961: Nikai no Tanin (Stranger Upstairs).
 
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Pen-Ek Ratanaruang
Pen-Ek studied from 1977 to 1985 in New York at the Pratt Institute and worked as freelance illustrator and designer with Designframe Incorporate. In Thailand he worked for five years as art director, before making his début with Fun Bar Karaoke, that was screened at many festivals after its première in Berlin.
 
76.
Hirokazu Koreeda
Director, Still Walking
Born in Tokyo in 1962. Originally intended to be a novelist, but after graduating from Waseda University in 1987 went on to become an assistant director at T.V. Man Union. Snuck off set to film Lessons from a Calf. His first feature, Maborosi, based on a Teru Miyamoto novel and drawn from his own experiences while filming August Without Him...
 
77.
Bahman Ghobadi
Director, Turtles Can Fly
Bahman Ghobadi was born in 1969 in Baneh, in the province of Iranian Kurdistan, near the Iran-Iraq border. Shortly after graduating from the National Audiovisual School, he made his first short, immediately acclaimed by the local critics. One of these short films, "Life in Fog" (1999) is even considered as the most famous short ever made in Iran...
 
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Quan'an Wang
Director, Tuya de hun shi
Quan'an Wang was born in Yan'an in 1965. A graduate from the 1991 Beijing Film Academy promotion, he belongs to what has been called the "sixth generation" of Chinese directors. From 1999 to 2009, he shared his life with actress Nan Yu, with whom he made his first four movies : "Yue shi" (Lunar Eclipse)...
 
82.
Ang Lee
Director, Life of Pi
Born in 1954 in Pingtung, Taiwan, Ang Lee has become one of today's greatest contemporary filmmakers. Ang graduated from the National Taiwan College of Arts in 1975 and then came to the U.S. to receive a B.F.A. Degree in Theatre/Theater Direction at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a Masters Degree in Film Production at New York University...
 
83.
Fatih Akin
Director, Head-On
Fatih Akin was born in 1973 in Hamburg of Turkish parentage. He began studying Visual Communications at Hamburg's College of Fine Arts in 1994. His collaboration with Wueste Film also dates from this time. In 1995, he wrote and directed his first short feature, "Sensin - You're The One!" ("Sensin - Du Bist Es!")...
 
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“ A France-based Persian comic artist and director that makes Persian films in exile. ” - minalex
 
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Hsiao-Hsien Hou
Writer, The Assassin
Of the ten films that Hsiao-Hsien Hou directed between 1980 and 1989, seven received best film or best director awards from prestigious international films festivals in Venice, Berlin, Hawaii, and the Festival of the Three Continents in Nantes. In a 1988 worldwide critics' poll, Hou was championed as "one of the three directors most crucial to the future of cinema." Hou's birthplace...
 
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Chuan Lu
Lu Chuan is considered one of the most talented young directors in China, and his films are known for daring and commercially successful takes on historical and social issues. After receiving a Master's degree in film studies from Beijing Film Academy in 1998, Lu Chuan started as a co-writer for Black Hole...
 
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Scandar Copti
Actor, Ajami
Copti is an Oscar-nominated Palestinian filmmaker born and raised in Yafa. In 2009, his first full-length feature film "Ajami" won the Camera d'Or Special Mention at the Cannes Film Festival. His film was also nominated for the 82nd Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Film category and won more than 15 awards worldwide...
 
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Yaron Shani
Director, Ajami
 
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Semih Kaplanoglu
Producer, Bal
 
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Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Apichatpong Weerasethakul (b. 1970, Bangkok) grew up in Khon Kaen, a city in the north east of Thailand. He has a degree in Architecture from Khon Kaen University and a Master of Fine Arts in Filmmaking from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He has been making films and videos since the early 90s...
 
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Chang-dong Lee
Writer, Shi
Lee Chang-Dong was born in 1954 in Daegu, which some consider the most right-wing city in South Korea. Lee is a former high-school teacher and an acclaimed novelist. He turned to cinema when he was over 40 years old. His debut film "Green Fish" (1997) brought immediate success and critical acclaim. "Peppermint Candy" (2000)...
 
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Asghar Farhadi
Asghar Farhadi was born in 1972 in Iran. He became interested in cinema in his teenage years and started his filmmaking education by joining the Youth Cinema Society of Esfahan in 1986 where he made 8mm and 16mm short films. He received his Bachelors in Theater from University of Tehran's School of...
 
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