Award-winning trailblazing Japanese actress Kirin Kiki died on Sept. 15. Kiki recently appeared in Shoplifters and had been fighting cancer since being diagnosed in 2004, but the official cause of her death has yet to be announced. She was 75.
Kiki was born Keiko Nakatani in Tokyo in 1943. She started her acting career in the ’60s under the name Yuki Chihi in a theater troupe, where she met actor Shin Kishida. They would marry and then later divorce in 1968. In 1973, she married musician Yuya Uchida and they had a daughter Yayako.
She would go on to find success in TV in shows such as Shichinin no Mago (Seven Grandchildren) as well as Terauchi Kantaro Ikka (Kantaro Terauchi Family) and Jikandesuyo (It’s Time).
On the film side, she starred in Tokyo Tawa: Okan to Boku to Tokidoki Oton (Tokyo Tower: Mom and Me, and Sometimes Dad) and Chronicle of My Mother. The two roles would earn her a Japan Academy Best Actress Award.
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Her other credits include Hirokazu Kore-eda’s I Wish in which she starred with her granddaughter Kyara Uchida. She also starred in Naomi Kawase’s Sweet Bean, which competed in the Un Certain Regard at Cannes in 2015.
She would continue to collaborate with Kore-eda’s, appearing in Still Walking in 2008 as well as Cannes Jury prize winner Like Father, Like Son in 2013. She also starred in My Little Sister (2015) and After the Storm (2016). She also starred in the aforementioned Kore-eda pic Shoplifters as the matriarch of an unconventional family of petty thieves. The film went on to be the Palm d’Or winner at Cannes.
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