|Born||April 1, 1936
Wakuya, Miyagi, Japan
|Died||17 October 2012 (aged 76)
Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan
|Occupation||Film director and screenwriter|
|Years active||1963 - 2012|
His 2010 film, Caterpillar, was nominated for the Golden Bear at the 60th Berlin International Film Festival.
Early lifeKōji Wakamatsu was born in Wakuya, Miyagi, Japan on 1 April 1936. Wakamatsu worked as a construction worker before beginning his film career with Nikkatsu in 1963.
CareerBetween 1963 and 1965, he directed 20 exploitation films for the studio, based on sensational topics of the day. He became interested in the Pink Film genre after the success of Tetsuji Takechi's 1964 Daydream. Nikkatsu submitted his Skeleton in the Closet (壁の中の秘事 Kabe no Naka no Himegoto ) (also known as Secrets Behind the Wall) (1965) to the 15th Berlin International Film Festival while the film was still under review by Eirin, the Japanese film-rating board. This submission before passing Eirin's review was doubly embarrassing for the government since pink films, though already emerging as the dominant domestic cinematic genre, were not regarded as worthy of critical attention or international export. The film received an enthusiastic reception at the festival, but Nikkatsu, fearful of governmental retaliatory action, gave it a low-profile domestic release. Disappointed, Wakamatsu quit the studio to form his own company.
Wakamatsu's independent films of the late 1960s were very low-budget, but often artistically done works, usually concerned with sex and extreme violence mixed with political messages. Some critics have suggested that these films were an intentional provocation to the government, in order to generate free publicity resulting from censorship controversies. His films were usually produced for less than 1,000,000 yen (about $5,000), necessitating extreme cost-cutting measures including location shooting, single-takes, and natural lighting. His early films were usually in black and white with occasional bursts of color for theatrical effect.
His first self-produced film was The Embryo Hunts In Secret (胎児が密猟する時 Taiji ga Mitsuryō Suru Toki , 1966), a story of a man who kidnaps, tortures and sexually abuses a woman until she finally escapes and stabs him to death. Freeze-frames, flash-backs, hand-held camera and locations limited to two rooms and a hallway add to the film's disturbing, claustrophobic atmosphere. Vagabond of Sex (性の放浪 Sei no Hōrō , 1967) was a parody of Imamura's A Man Vanishes (1967). In Wakamatsu's film, a man leaves his family in Tokyo to travel and engage in various sexual escapades. When he returns home he finds out that his wife is starring in Imamura's documentary about her search for her missing husband.
Violated Angels (犯された白衣 Okasareta Hakui , 1967) was based on the murder of eight nursing students in the U.S. by Richard Speck. Dark Story of a Japanese Rapist (日本暴行暗黒史 Nihon Bōkō Ankokushi , 1969) was based on a serial-rapist case in Japan after World War II. Go, Go Second Time Virgin (ゆけゆけ二度目の処女 Yuke yuke nidome no shojo , 1969) is loosely based on the Tate-LaBianca murders by the Manson Family in the same year. With Sex Jack (性賊 Seizoku , 1970), he tried "to show how the revolutionary movements are always infiltrated by the moles working for the government". One of his most critically esteemed films is Sacred Mother Kannon (聖母観音大菩薩 Seibo Kannon Daibosatsu , 1977), which has been called a "'text book example' for the use of metaphor and symbolism in contemporary cinema." 
United Red Army (連合赤軍 Rengo Sekigun , 2008) was based on the "Asama-Sansō incident". Long and harsh, this movie includes a long documentary part about the political background that led to this tragedy and the self-destruction of the Japanese radical left.
While directing many successful and critically praised Pink Films, Wakamatsu also became known for giving young filmmakers their first experience in working in the industry. Among those whose early careers were helped by Wakamatsu are Banmei Takahashi, Genji Nakamura and Kan Mukai.
His 2010 film, Caterpillar, competed for the Golden Bear at the 60th Berlin International Film Festival.
In 2011, a new film on the last days of acclaimed novelist and political activist Yukio Mishima, focusing on the stream of events leading to the so-called Ichigaya incident of November 25th, 1970, was announced as being on its stage of full completion. The film entitled 11.25 Jiketsu No Hi, Mishima Yukio To Wakamonotachi [11.25自決の日、三島由紀夫と若者たち] features Japanese actor Arata as Mishima. The film competed in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.
Wakamatsu died after being hit by a taxi cab in Tokyo on October 17 2012.
|Secrets Behind the Wall||壁の中の秘事||1965|
|The Embryo Hunts in Secret||胎児が密猟する時||1966|
|Vagabond of Sex||性の放浪||1967|
|Go, Go Second Time Virgin||ゆけゆけ二度目の処女||1969|
|Dark Story of a Japanese Rapist||日本暴行暗黒史||1969|
|Ecstasy of the Angels||天使の恍惚||1972|
|Sacred Mother Kannon||聖母観音大菩薩||1977|
|Ware ni utsu yoi ari||われに撃つ用意あり||1990|
|Perfect Education 6||完全なる飼育 赤い殺意||2004|
|United Red Army||連合赤軍||2008|
|11:25 The Day He Chose His Own Fate||11・25自決の日 三島由紀夫と若者たち||2012|
Acclaimed Japanese director Koji Wakamatsu diesTOKYO — Award-winning Japanese director Koji Wakamatsu has died at the age of 76 after being hit by a taxi, leaving a legacy of a career that began in pornography and ended in acclaimed independent productions.
Wakamatsu was hospitalised on Friday after being knocked over as he crossed the road in the busy commercial district of Shinjuku in Tokyo, according to Kazuya Shiraishi, an employee in his production company.
Just two weeks ago he was named Asian Filmmaker of the Year at the region's biggest film festival in South Korea, for his contribution to independent cinema.
Interviewed by AFP in Busan, the "Caterpillar" director had said he felt his films were undervalued in Japan, "so this is a great honour for me".
"I am an independent filmmaker and this goes against the system in Japan. But you have to make the films that are in your heart, not films other people want you to make," he said.
He was a critic of the way Japan's film industry operates and called for government funding to be switched from commercial movies to independent flicks, which he said provided a voice.
"The reason I became a filmmaker was to talk to the country," he told AFP in Busan earlier this month.
"One way to get attention is to shoot people with a gun, but I chose the camera instead of the gun.
"I think cinema means freedom and through cinema, you are free to do whatever you want."
Wakamatsu first came to international attention when "Secrets Behind The Wall" was featured at the 1965 Berlin International Film Festival.
In a career that spanned more than 100 movies, he was as noted for his work exploring strong social themes as he was for his contribution to adult films.
He was prominent in Japan's "pink" or soft-porn genre with "Go, Go Second Time Virgin" (1968) and entered the mainstream through his involvement in the likes of the acclaimed 1976 erotic drama "In the Realm of the Senses".
His 2008 "United Red Army" centred on the Japanese Maoist group of the same name that became involved in a protracted police stand-off after taking a woman hostage in rural Japan. The film won the Best Asian Movie Award at Berlin.
Shinobu Terajima, who won the best actress award in Berlin for her role in "Caterpillar" on Thursday paid poetic tribute to a man she said had a "burning passion" for his art.
"He disappeared so suddenly, the director who likes to surprise people. I want him to show up again, saying he's just kidding.
"The director who is considerate, who sides with the weak and turns on the strong, who loves liquor and good food, who had a burning passion for film-making. Oh, where on earth are you?" she wrote.
Wakamatsu's last work was "Sennen no yuraku" ("The Millennial Rapture"), which featured at this year's Venice International Film Festival.
Kim Ji-Seok, executive programmer of the Busan film festival, will travel to Japan to deliver a collection of photographs of Wakamatsu taken during the festival to his family, a festival spokeswoman told AFP.
He will also take a bronze plaque with Wakamatsu's hand print made during this year's festival as well as a message of condolences from organisers, she added.
"He looked so happy in Busan only a few days ago... it still feels so surreal (that he's gone)," Kim tweeted on Wednesday.