Karan Johar (India)
Karan Johar is one of India’s most successful and versatile film artists. He is director of blockbuster hit movies, head of hit-making production company Dharma Productions, actor, author, costume designer, DJ and huge celebrity as host of TV talk show Koffee With Karan.
Born in 1972 into a film-making family – his father, the late Yash Johar, was the founder of Dharma Productions, Johar made his directorial debut at the age of 25 with trendsetting love story Kuch Kuch Hota Hai followed in 2001 by the megabit Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Ghamwhich shot him to the top ranks of commercial cinema directors in India. Working with the biggest stars in Bollywood, Johar continued to dominate the box office with Kabhi Alvida Naan’s Kehna (2006), My Name Is Khan (2010), Student Of The Year (2012) and Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (2016).
At the same time as his directing career, Johar took over his family company after his father’s death in 2004 and has produced over 30 films, often giving opportunities to young and upcoming directors and helping them to the next level. Dharma is now one of the leading production outfits in the country.
His talk show is the most watched English language talk show on Indian television, cementing his status as a key cultural figure and securing him a spot on Variety’s list of 500 Most Influential People In Entertainment. He has spoken at the London School Of Economics and Harvard University, attended the World Economic Forum as a cultural leader and led the Indian delegation to the Berlin Film Festival in 2018. He is also a keen humanitarian and works with non-profit organizations working around cancer, children with disability and neo-natal care.
Kim Yong-Hwa (Korea)
Kim Yong-hwa is one of South Korea’s most successful filmmakers having broken box office records and gained popularity with audiences and critics alike. He has written and directed six feature films and all of them have been big box office success in South Korea and across Asia. His films tell intricate stories of overcoming adversity but in a playful and entertaining manner with sumptuous and cutting-edge VFX to enhance the storytelling.
His filmography includes “Oh! Brothers” (2003), “200 Pounds Beauty” (2006), “Take Off” (2009), “Mr. Go” (2013), “Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds” (2017), and “Along with the Gods: The Last 49 Days” (2018). With “Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds”, Kim has achieved the number two of all-time box office record in South Korea and taken the top spot from “Train to Busan” as the top-grossing South Korean film in many parts of Asia.
Kim is also the Founder of an acclaimed VFX company, Dexter Studios and the company has worked on the big Asian films such as “The Taking of Tiger Mountain”, “The Monkey King”, “Kung Fu Yoga” and “Along with the Gods” franchise. He is currently working on his next feature films “Along with the Gods: Part 3, 4” and Executive Producing “Mount Paektu”, a $20 million budget disaster film about the two Koreas struggling to prevent a volcanic eruption of Mount Paektu, working closely with the next generation of filmmakers.
Wang Xiaoshuai (Mainland China)
Wang Xiaoshuai is one of very few masters who remains true to his art in spite of rampant commercialism in the Chinese film market. Evoking the trauma of ordinary Chinese people caught in extraordinary times, his works span different eras, yet consistently reflect a strong social conscience.
Born in 1966, he was a graduate of Beijing Film Academy. At 27, he emerged as one of the key Sixth Generation directors with his debut feature The Days (1993) which was selected as one of the best 100 films of all time by the BBC in 1995. He followed up with Frozen (1995) and So Close to Paradise (1998), the latter premiering in Un Certain Regard in Cannes. Wang’s gritty depiction of listless youth in a time of bewildering social changes earned him international critical acclaim, but none of his early films could be officially released at home. Beijing Bicycle (2001) won the Grand Jury prize at the Berlinale, for its stunningly fresh portrait of Chinese teenagers negotiating the class gap in a new age of materialism.
Wang’s films have been selected for competition in Cannes four times, three times in the Berlinale, and also at Venice and San Sebastian. For his artistic accomplishments, he has received many distinguished honours, notably the Jury Prize in Cannes competition for Shanghai Dreams (2005) and the Berlinale Silver Bear for Best Screenplay for In Love We Trust (2008). His recent work Red Amnesia (2014) was selected in competition at the 71st Venice International Film Festival, and the latest title So Long, My Son (2019) won two Silver Bears for the Best Actor and Actress at the 69th Berlin International Film Festival. Both examine the far-reaching consequences of the past on the present.