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Nov 1, 2012 2:49 PM

Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 1501
Sion Sono
園 子温

Short Biography: by Genkinahito.

Sion Sono has had a varied career starting as an avant-garde poet before ditching a course at Hosei University for a career in underground filmmaking although he never turns his back on poetry which will recur in his early films. In 1987 he won the Grand Prize at the PIA Film Festival (PFF) for his film A Man’s Hanamichi. The PFF is designed to discover and support new filmmakers and following his win he received a fellowship with PIA and wrote, directed and starred in numerous films which contained underachievers, serial killers and other outsiders. These films regularly toured the international festival circuit and helped establish his name.

It wasn’t until the 2001 film Suicide Circle when he truly became a well-known cult director. Suicide Circle (which has special effects by Tokyo Gore Police director Yoshihiro Nishimura) is a satirical film dealing with pop culture, mass suicides, and a bewildered middle aged police detective played by Ryo Ishibashi (Audition) trying to understand it all while being assailed by deviants and horrific sights that challenge his perceptions. Following this success he expanded on the film’s world by taking it into different mediums such as novels and manga and a belated sequel named Noriko’s Dinner Table which was made in 2006.

Noriko's Dinner Table

Suicide Circle was a massive success and has set the tone for the rest of his films. Despite trying a gangster film (Hazard – 2005) and comedy-drama (Into a Dream – 2005), both starring Joe Odagiri (Adrift in Tokyo, Bright Future), he has continued to explore the darker side of modern Japan with a series of extreme titles including the ero-guro film Strange Circus (2005) which features sexual and mental abuse and incest, the aformentioned Noriko’s Dinner Table which deals with alienation and suicide, Exte: Hair Extensions (2007) which stars Chiaki Kuriyama (Battle Royale, Shikoku, Kill Bill) and is a far more mainstream J-horror title and then Love Exposure (2008) which stars Hikari Mitsushima (Sawako Decides) and can only be described as a religio-psycho-sexual mindmelt.

Love Exposure's Interesting Ride

Since then he has made the drama Be Sure to Share (2009) and the extraordinary psychological horror/comedy Cold Fish (2010). Love Exposure and Cold Fish were the first two instalments of his ‘hate trilogy’ which he finished off with Guilty of Romance (2011). Although Love Exposure and Cold Fish wowed critics, Guilty of Romance received mixed reviews due to accusations that it is undisciplined and long.

While the hate trilogy is typical Sono with its dark themes, extreme situations, and violence he tackled even grimmer subject matter with his adaptation of the manga Himizu Himizu's Shota Sometani and Fumi Nikaido(2011) which was shot in North Eastern Japan just after the earthuake and tsunami. It got a theatrical release in Japan earlier this year and it gets its premiere in the UK at next month’s Terracotta Far East Film Festival. Soon after wrapping up filming of Himizu it was announced that he was to be married to Megumi Kagurazaka who was in Himizu and also took lead roles in Cold Fish and Guilty of Romance. He is currently finishing work on Land of Hope which deals with the earthquake in Japan and may get a premiere at Cannes and he is also working on Kenkichi with his friend Tak Sakaguchi. This a samurai film where the hero looks to be an unhinged killer who murders people.

Sion Sono is a name linked to extreme cinema with some citing him as a replacement for Takashi Miike who has moved steadily into mainstream of Japanese filmmaking but that reading is a little too simplistic for my taste. Although he shares the trait of being prolific and indulging in extreme cinema and focussing on outsiders most of his stories share a greater interest in everyday life and the little people who exist in it.

Even if the films take a turn into the darkest of territory with the blackest of humour and contain some of the goriest and most violent sequences on modern celluloid the emotions, thinking and actions of the characters remain absolutely believable. And that is what makes his films so challenging. No matter how horrific a film might become we still recognise parts of ourselves, the neglected shadow selves and the bits we try to suppress or wish that we had access to. The horror of living in an atomised society where we don’t really know the darkness that exists in ourselves and others.The absurdity of life. Genkinahito's Blog

Video Interview


1985 – I Am Sion Sono!! (Ore wa Sono Sion da!!) – Director, Writer and Actor
1986 – A Man's Hanamichi (Otoko no hanamichi) – Director and Writer
1986 – Ai – Director and Writer
1988 – Kessen! Joshiryo tai Danshiryo (Decisive Match! Girls Dorm Against Boys Dorm) – Director and Writer
1991 – Bicycle Sighs (Jitensha Toiki) – Director, Co-writer and Actor
1992 – The Room (Heya) – Director and Writer
I Hate You... Not (Kirai... Janaiyo) – Actor
Otaku – Actor
1997 – Keiko desu kedo – Director and Writer
1998 – Kaze (Wind) – Director and Writer
Dankon: The Man – Director and Writer
Seigi no Tatsujin Nyotai Tsubo Saguri – Director and Writer
2000 – Utsushimi – Director, Writer and Cinematographer
Blind Beast vs. Dwarf (Moju tai Issunboshi) – Actor
2001 – 0cm4 – Director and Writer
1995 – BAD FILM – Director and Writer
2001 – Suicide Club (Jisatsu sâkuru) – Director and Writer
2003 – Chichi no hi (Father's Day) – Director and Writer
2004 – Otona ni Nattara (Become the Adult) – Director and Writer
2005 – Hazard – Director and Writer
2005 – Into a Dream (Yume no naka e) – Director and Writer
2005 – Noriko's Dinner Table (Noriko no Shokutaku) – Director and Writer
2005 – Strange Circus (Kimyô na sâkasu) – Director, Writer, Composer and Cinematographer
2007 – Exte -Hair Extensions- (Ekusute) – Director and Writer
2008 – Love Exposure (Ai no mukidashi) – Director and Writer
2009 – Be Sure to Share ("Chanto tsutaeru") – Director and Writer
2010 – Cold Fish (Tsumetai nettaigyo) – Director and Co-Writer
Lords of Chaos – Director and Co-Writer
2011 – Guilty of Romance (Koi no Tsumi) – Director and Writer
2011 – Himizu – Director
2012 – The Land of Hope (Kibō no Kuni) – Director and Writer (Post-production)
2013 – Why Don't You Play In Hell? (Jigoku de naze warui) – Director and Writer (In production)
Modified by Orion1, Nov 12, 2012 3:09 AM
Jan 25, 2015 1:57 PM

Joined: May 2010
Posts: 761
I am very surprised I have not commented here before. Anyway, new Sion Sono trailer for yet another movie coming out this year. Looks very "Sionish".

edit: Does anyone know the name of the song?
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Apr 12, 2015 4:13 AM

Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 1501
That musical score doesn't ring a bell.I attempted to Shazam it but it didn't know either. But you did just remind me that I need to watch a few newer Sono films like Why Don't You Play in Hell?, and Tokyo Tribe.
May 27, 2015 3:59 PM

Joined: Jun 2013
Posts: 1220
Orion1 said:
That musical score doesn't ring a bell.I attempted to Shazam it but it didn't know either. But you did just remind me that I need to watch a few newer Sono films like Why Don't You Play in Hell?, and Tokyo Tribe.

Likewise. I really wanna watch them both, but unfortunately it doesn't look like either are getting a UK release.

It turns out Tokyo Tribe is gonna get a R2 release on the 15th of this month. As for Why Don't You Play in Hell?, it still ain't getting one by the looks of things, at least not yet. But as I just found out, VLC media player plays dvds of any region code; now I can't wait to get my hands on some R1 DVDs.

I have his hate trilogy on DVD as well as Himizu and Strange Circus. He's one of my favorite directors and Love Exposure is one of my favorite films of all time.
Modified by Berserk, Jun 9, 2015 4:21 PM