Kobayashi Masahiro, Japanese Film Director of ‘Bashing,’ ‘The Rebirth,’ Dies at 68

Kobayashi Masahiro, the director of four films that screened at Cannes, died in Tokyo on August 20, 2022, age 68. His death was disclosed only on Wednesday, with the cause given as colonic cancer.  

Born in Tokyo in 1954, Kobayashi started out as a folksinger and scriptwriter for television and erotic features called ‘pink films.’  

In 1996, at age 42, he made his directorial debut with “Closing Time,” a self-financed indie about the life and loves of an alcoholic scriptwriter. The film won the grand prize at the first Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival.  

His next films screened three years in a row at Cannes – “Kaizokuban Bootleg Film” (1999) and “Man Walking on Snow” (2001) in Un Certain Regard and “Koroshi” (2000) in the Directors’ Fortnight.  

Among his biggest critical successes, however, was “Bashing,” a 2005 drama about a young woman who goes to Iraq to provide humanitarian aid, is kidnapped and released. When she returns to her provincial hometown, she is brutally bullied for ‘selfishly’ causing trouble. Screened in competition at Cannes, the film went on to win several awards, including a Grand Prize at Tokyo Filmex.    

Kobayashi also garnered international kudos for “The Rebirth,” a dark drama about the father of a murdered girl and the mother of the killer who reunite at a countryside inn. Premiering at Locarno in 2007, the film won the Golden Leopard and three other prizes. It played widely on the festival circuit.  

In 2017 Kobayashi released his last film, “Lear on the Shore,” a drama starring Japanese screen icon Nakadai Tatsuya as a dementia-afflicted man. Around the same Kobayashi was reportedly diagnosed with colon cancer and spent much time in his remaining years in treatment.

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