Director Ryusuke Hamaguchi was born on Dec 16, 1978. After graduating from the University of Tokyo with a Bachelor of Art in Aesthetics in 2003, he worked as an assistant director for film and TV industry for several years. Then, Hamaguchi studied at the Tokyo University of the Arts and got the degree of Master of Film in 2008. His graduation film PASSION was well received by the professors including renowned director Kiyoshi Kurosawa, and was officially selected in the Zabaltegi Section of San Sebastian International Film Festival as well as Tokyo FILMeX competition. His early films include THE DEPTHS (2010), Tohoku Trilogy documentary (Sound of the Waves, Voices from the Waves and Storytellers) co-directed by Ko Sakai (2011 to 2013), and TOUCHING THE SKIN OF EERINESS (2013) staring a Premio Marcello Mastroianni winner Shota Sometani. Hamaguchi gained international recognition with HAPPY HOUR (2015) which received Special Mention for the screenplay at the Locarno International Film Festival. He then followed with ASAKO I & II (2018) which was selected to compete for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. In 2021, he released two films, WHEEL OF FORTUNE AND FANTASY and DRIVE MY CAR, for the latter he has received Best Screenplay at the Cannes Film Festival as well as two Academy Awards nominations, for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay, making him the third Japanese director to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Director.
Go to the Movies (2001)
Like Nothing Happened (2003)
Beginning (2005) (short)
Friend of the Night (2005) (short)
Scent of Memories (2006) (short)
Attack (2006) (short)
I Love Thee For Good (2009)
The Depths (2010)
The Sound of Waves (2012)
Voices from the Waves: Shinchimachi (2013)
Voices from the Waves: Kesennuma (2013)
Touching the Skin of Eeriness (2013)
Happy Hour (2015)
Heaven Is Still Far Away (2016) (short)
Asako I & II (2018)
Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy (2021)
Drive My Car (2021)
Director’s Note on HAPPY HOUR
The concept for the film “Happy Hour” was born from “Ryusuke Hamaguchi Impromptu Acting Workshop in Kobe” which was held for five months from September 2013 through February 2014. The workshop was for people from all backgrounds including those with no acting experience. A total of 17 people, men and women of various ages, passed the three auditions and they took several lessons on “how to act in front of camera” with the objective of making a film. Two thirds of them didn’t have any acting experience, but they spent high-quality time at the workshop and I could see huge potential in them for the upcoming filming.
The idea of this movie originally came from meeting the four women in their 30s in the audition. It is uncommon for those women in their late 30s, who have work and family with no experience in acting, to participate in this kind of workshop. “Happy Hour” is a fictitious story, but it is all connected with their great desire to show who they are through acting and to connect with others that is fostered in everyday life, as well as its flip side, that is, “a cruelty of life.”
They made me want to write a script for them.
In this film, what happens to them is cruel, but it may be clichéd. But throughout the events, I captured their agony and real selves. The long nights that changed their lives can happen to anybody. I hope the audience, through the screen, can identify their honest way of living without being a slave to convention with their own.