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Cary Fukunaga

Cary Fukunaga

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Also Known As: Cary Joji Fukunaga Died:
Born: July 10, 1977 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Oakland, California, USA Profession: writer, director, cinematographer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Using both his educational background and real-life experiences, Cary Joji Fukunaga emerged in a big way onto the filmmaking scene with his debut, "Sin Nombre" (2009), which earned the director widespread critical acclaim and numerous awards following the film's premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. After winning a Student Academy Award for making a short film based on the tragic end for a group of illegal immigrants in Texas, Fukunaga journeyed across Central America atop a railroad car alongside other migrant workers in order to better understand their often harrowing plights in trying to cross the border. An eye-opening experience, his travels led to writing the script for "Sin Nombre," a tension-filled crime thriller about a young Honduran girl being escorted to the U.S. border by a repentant gang member desperately trying to escape certain retribution from his fellow bangers. Thanks to the independent success of the film, which earned several critics and film festival awards, Fukunaga found himself on Hollywood's radar, earning a development deal with a major studio that led to an adaptation of the classic British novel "Jane Eyre" (2011), followed by the first season of dark and gritty cable...

Using both his educational background and real-life experiences, Cary Joji Fukunaga emerged in a big way onto the filmmaking scene with his debut, "Sin Nombre" (2009), which earned the director widespread critical acclaim and numerous awards following the film's premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. After winning a Student Academy Award for making a short film based on the tragic end for a group of illegal immigrants in Texas, Fukunaga journeyed across Central America atop a railroad car alongside other migrant workers in order to better understand their often harrowing plights in trying to cross the border. An eye-opening experience, his travels led to writing the script for "Sin Nombre," a tension-filled crime thriller about a young Honduran girl being escorted to the U.S. border by a repentant gang member desperately trying to escape certain retribution from his fellow bangers. Thanks to the independent success of the film, which earned several critics and film festival awards, Fukunaga found himself on Hollywood's radar, earning a development deal with a major studio that led to an adaptation of the classic British novel "Jane Eyre" (2011), followed by the first season of dark and gritty cable television mystery "True Detective" (HBO 2014- ). Departing that series after creative clashes with its creator Nic Pizzolato, Fukunaga returned to the big screen with "Beasts of No Nation" (2015), a chilling tale about an African civil war as seen through the eyes of a child soldier.

Born on July 10, 1977 in Oakland, CA, Fukunaga was the son of a Japanese father and Swedish mother. After his parents divorced when he was a child, Fukunaga spent his summers with his father in the East Bay, which was where he began vigorously watching movies at seven years old. By the time he turned 11, he was adept enough to understand the inner workings of film, which led to writing screenplays by the time he was in high school. Though he had an early interest, Fukunaga put his film career on hold in order to earn a bachelor's degree in history from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He continued his education by studying political science at L'Institut d'études politiques de Grenoble in Saint-Martin d'Hères, France. Returning stateside, Fukunaga embarked on his directing career as a member of the graduate program at New York University, where he made the short film, "Victoria para chino" (2004), a 13-minute drama that focused on a real-life incident in which a group of illegal immigrants from Mexico and Central America were crammed into a truck and smuggled into the United States, only to see 19 die from the overwhelming Texas heat. The film screened at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival and won more than two dozen international awards, including a Student Academy Award.

Fresh off his first film success, Fukunaga set off to expand upon the world he had touched on with his short film in order to fully explore the plight of migrant workers from Mexico and Central America struggling to make their way to the United States. But instead of imagining what life might have been like for illegal immigrants making their way north, Fukunaga traveled south of the border to learn firsthand and began to formulate the ideas that eventually became his first feature length film, "Sin Nombre" (2009). While on his journey through Central America, he learned that many immigrants came from much farther south than Mexico - many made their way from places like Guatemala and Honduras, often hitching rides atop moving trains in a dangerous attempt to forge a better life. Delving into their world, Fukunaga braved weather, dangerous conditions and violent gangs in order to ride the rails himself, while interviewing both migrant workers and gang members serving time in prison. The result was an entirely fresh perspective on a political, sociological and economical issue often obfuscated by one agenda or another.

Upon his return to the states, Fukunaga began writing the script for "Sin Nombre," which he fashioned to tell the tale of Sayra, a young Honduran girl (Paulina Gaitan) who joins her uncle on a harrowing cross-country trek to America atop a railroad car in order to join their family in New York City. While en route, she encounters Willy/El Casper, a reluctant member of the notorious Mara Salvatrucha gang (newcomer Edgar Flores) who murders his leader (Tenoch Huerta Mejía) while trying to rob the train. Seeking both redemption and a means of escape from his vengeance-minded gang, Casper escorts Sayra in an effort to reach the border while helping her overcome numerous obstacles, including the Mexican police. Both a gritty crime thriller and subtle character drama, "Sin Nombre" was a confident debut from a first time director who was able to craft an exquisite film with smart writing and lush photography while eliciting fine performances from his two leads. After premiering at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, where Fukunaga won the directing award, "Sin Nombre" went on to accumulate numerous award wins along the festival circuit, while earning Independent Spirit Award nominations for Best Feature, Best Director and Best Cinematography. Consequently, Hollywood stood up and took notice of the bright new talent, resulting in Fukunaga signing a development deal with Universal. A stylish adaptation of Charlotte Bronte's "Jane Eyre" (2011) with Mia Wasikowska in the title role followed to mild acclaim.

Fukunaga returned with his first television work, the critically lauded buzz show "True Detective" (HBO 2014- ). Envisioned as an anthology that would feature different characters and actors every series, "True Detective" starred Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson in its premiere storyline, as a pair of Louisiana policemen with widely divergent world views, brought together in the hunt for a serial killer. After a reportedly strained relationship with writer Nic Pizzolatto, Fukunaga did not return for the show's second season. Following that acclaimed venture, Fukunaga wrote and directed "Beasts of No Nation" (2015), a drama about an African rebel commander, played by Idris Elba, and his child soldiers.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

2.
  Jane Eyre (2011)
3.
  Sin Nombre (2009)

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Lovesong (2016)
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Milestones close milestones

:
Worked on music videos and commercials in Los Angeles to learn filmmaking
2004:
Wrote and directed the short film "Victoria para Chino," while at NYU; screened at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival
2009:
Made his feature writing and directing debut with "Sin Nombre"; won awards at Sundance for Dramatic Directing and Excellence in Cinematography; earned an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Director
2009:
Nominated for the 2009 Independent Spirit Award for Best Director ("Sin Nombre")
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Education

New York University: New York , New York -
Institut d'études politiques de Grenoble: -
University of California, Santa Cruz: Santa Cruz , California - 1999

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