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Hiroyuki Tanaka, aka Sabu, was born in 1964 in Wakayama, Japan. His debut in film came as an actor in "Sorobanzuku" (1986). His first main role was in "World Apartment of Horror" (1992) under the direction of Katsuhiro Ôtomo, for which he was awarded Young Actor of the Year at the Yokohama Film Festival.

In 1995, Sabu began to write screenplays himself. His debut film as a director, "D.A.N.G.A.N. Runner" (1996), in which he can also be seen as a supporting actor, was a great international success. As well as numerous invitations to international festivals (including the Panorama section of the Berlinale) Sabu's first feature received the prize for the best film by an "up-and-coming director" at the film festival in Yokohama.

"Postman Blues", Sabu's second feature film, is the tragic yet comic story of a postman who becomes innocently involved with drug-dealers and contract killers. "Postman Blues" was very well-received at international film festivals (Bangkok, Montreal, Rotterdam, Sundance etc.) and once again won Sabu awards as the best up-and-coming director. The film was shown in cinemas world-wide and is regarded as one of his most successful to date. It was followed by "Unlucky Monkey" (1998), "Monday" (1999), "The Blessing Bell" (2002) and "Hard Luck Hero" (2003). For "Monday", the director received the acclaimed Fipresci Award – a prize in the category "Best Film" presented annually by the Association of International Film Critics. The director won the NETPAC Award for the best Asian film with "Blessing Bell" (2002), a work exemplary of Sabu's narrative technique using a sequence of absurd events. In the following years, the filmmaker entered into close collaboration with the Japanese pop group V6. The boy band appear as protagonists in Sabu's action comedies "Hard Luck Hero" (2003) and "Hold up Down" (2005).

Sabu has a large number of fans far beyond Japan's borders, who appreciate his unmistakeable style. A "Sabu film" is characterised in particular by its fundamentally melancholy mood, absurd humour, fast and structured narrative, and generally anti-heroes in the main roles. These are played by an excellent ensemble of actors, retained for several years now. In "Dead Run" (2005), his most recent film based on a novel by the Japanese writer Kiyoshi Shigematsu, Sabu adopts a more thoughtful tone: it is a quiet love story between the young people Shuji and Eri, whose relationship leads them to encounter fundamental questions like fate, guilt, death and religion – motifs that run through the entire film. In 2006, "Dead Run" was shown in the Panorama of the Berlinale (the 6th time that a film by Sabu was shown at the Berlin International Film Festival), and at the International Film Festival in Syracuse it won the "Best Feature Fiction Award".

Therefore Sabu is well-known to Berlin audiences. The director would like to use his stay in the German capital to continue work on his current screenplays. "Idiot and Angel" is the working title of one film project set in the drugs world. Sabu is married with one son. He lives with his wife and son in Wakayama.

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Filmography
D.A.N.G.A.N. Runner (feature film, 82 min, 35 mm) 1996
Postman Blues (feature film, 110 min, 35 mm) 1997
Unlucky Monkey (feature film, 107 min, 35 mm) 1998
Monday (feature film, 100 min, 35 mm) 1998
Drive (feature film, 102 min, 35 mm) 2002
The Blessing Bell (feature film, 87 min, 35 mm) 2002
1012 (short film, 17 min) 2002
Hard Luck Hero (feature film, 79 min, 35 mm) 2003
Hold up Down (feature film, 97 min, 35 mm) 2005
Dead Run (feature film, 125 min, 35 mm) 2005
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