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Isamu Hirabayashi - Film Director


Hirabayashi learns advertisement and graphic design at Musashino Art University, where he meets his best friend, the painter Tetsuya Ishida (1973-2005). Hirabayashi and Ishida together enters the Mainichi Advertisement Design Award, and is awarded with outstanding performance and honorable mention.

After graduating college, Hirabayashi starts working for Light Publicity, a top advertising design agency in Japan. At Light Publicity he works on newspaper and magazine advertisement projects as an art director. Upon leaving Light Publicity, Hirabayashi starts working as an independent film director. He goes on to stage and produce TV commercials for various prestigious industries in Japan.



Isamu Hirabayashi was born in 1972 in Shimada City, Shizuoka Prefecture in Japan. He was born into a family of precious metal craftsmen of three generations as the second of three sons.

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In 2002 he starts making short films. His early film making career produced experimental works such as “PENIS” and “TEXTISM.” “TEXTISM” was chosen as the top 10 film by film critic Tony Rayns for the 2012 “Greatest Ever Film” ranking hosted by the British film magazine “Sight & Sound.” Tony Rayns invites Hirabayashi’s works to the Vancouver International Film Festival every year, and in 2010 the festival organized a program titled “Apichatpong and Hirabayashi,” where Hirabayashi’s works were shown together with the works of the director Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

His short film “BABIN,” which was made in 2008, was nominated for the Locarno International Film Festival, and this was the first time Hirabayashi’s works were screened at a major international film festival. “BABIN” received two awards at this festival. Later, his film “aramaki” was nominated for the Berlin International Film Festival. “Shikasha was screened at Director’s Fortnight. “663114” was screened at the Venice International Film Festival, and with that Hirabayashi's works were screened at all of the top four film festivals around the world.


Later, “NINJA & SOLDIER” and “SOLITON” are screened consecutively at the Berlin International Film Festival.

In 2019, Hirabayashi completed his first feature length film “Shell and Joint.” “Shell and Joint” depicts arthropods through exploring the themes of life, death, and sex. The experimental style of Hirabayashi, which he developed through making short films, is heavily expressed in this work. Hirabayashi’s team is working towards a nomination for “Shell and Joint” at an international film festival in 2019.


His animated film “663114,” which tackles the topic of the Great East Japan Earthquake, was not only screened at the Venice International Film Festival but also at the Berlin International Film Festival, where it received a Special Mention Award. It also received the Ofuji Noburo Award, the most prestigious animation award in Japan.



PENIS (2002) Short Film

COCKROACH (2002) Short Film

HELMUT (2003) Short Film

TEXTISM (2003) Short Film

VS (2004) Short Film

Conversation with Nature (2005) Short Film

Doron (2006) Short Film 
A Story Constructed of 17 Pieces of Space and 1 Maggot (2007) 
Short Film

BABIN (2008) Short Film

aramaki (2009) Short Film

Shikasha (2010) Short Film

5+Camera (2011) Short Film

663114 (2011) Short Film

Matou (2011) Short Film
Short Film

SOLITON (2013) Short Film

Keshinomi (2014) Short Film

OCTOPUS (2015) Short Film

Heaven (2016) Short Film

Mountain (2017) Short Film

Shell and Joint (2019) Feature Film

6 LEGS (2020) Short Film

Shirataki (2021) Short Film

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