15 January 2014 2:39 PM, PST | The Playlist | See recent The Playlist news »

In person, Japanese director Kore-eda Hirokazu is gentle and thoughtful, with a frequent warm, shy smile—of the directors we've met, he perhaps comes closest to being the true embodiment of his films. But his humility is all the more remarkable for the body of work it covers: since establishing himself instantly as a filmmaker of rare sensitivity with 1995's "Maborosi" and breaking through internationally with his vision of a bureaucratic yet sympathetic Purgatory in "After Life," he has brought films to Cannes four times, and earlier this year won the Jury Prize and the Ecumenical Jury Prize for the extraordinarily affecting "Like Father Like Son." (Read our A grade review from Cannes here.) Kore-eda has in fact worked across many genres, from fantasy ("After Life," "Air Doll"), through dramas inspired by true events both public ("Distance") and personal ("Still Walking," "Nobody Knows"), and even a Samurai comedy in "Hana, »

- Jessica Kiang

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After.Life (2009)
Still Walking (2008)

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