Born in 1969 in Osaka, director Toshiaki Toyoda burst onto the filmmaking scene in 1998 with Porno Star (US title: Tokyo Rampage), a riveting and violent tale about a disturbed young man who begins killing yakuza. Following up with the boxing documentary, Unchain, and the manga-inspired high school story Blue Spring (which launched the career of popular actor Ryuhei Matsuda, and transformed him into a major star). He soon became a film festival favorite with 2003’s 9 Souls and his 2005 masterpiece Hanging Garden, a movie that many felt was a superior predecessor to Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s more arthouse-friendly Tokyo Sonata. Toyoda seemed well on the path to become an internationally-recognized filmmaker, but following an August 2005 arrest for possession of stimulants, he was effectively blacklisted from the filmmaking scene for nearly four years. The Blood of Rebirth (NYAFF 2010) marked his triumphant return to the screen, shot in almost in total secrecy in only ten days and clearly an artistic statement about losing his freedom. Monsters Club (NYAFF 2012) was his horrific, poetic portrait of the Unabomber, and it polarized audiences around the world meaning that, of course, we had to screen it. He just finished I’m Flash (2012) and is currently wrapping up Crows Explode (2014) which is the latest installment in the wildy popular high school gang series Crows, which featured Takashi Miike as the director of the first two installments.