Cary Joji Fukunaga

Cary Joji Fukunaga is an American filmmaker and television director.
He first gained recognition for writing and directing the 2009 film Sin Nombre, and the 2011 adaptation of Jane Eyre; he also was the director and executive producer of the first season of the HBO series True Detective, for which he won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series. He received acclaim for the 2015 war drama Beasts of No Nation, in which he was writer, director, producer, and cinematographer. In 2018, he was named as director of the 25th James Bond film, No Time to Die.

Early life

Fukunaga was born in Alameda, California. His father, Anthony Shuzo Fukunaga, was a third-generation Japanese-American, born in an internment camp during World War II. His mother, Gretchen May, is Swedish-American, and worked as a dental hygienist, and later as a college history instructor and university assistant professor of history, from whom Cary got his original interest in history. His parents divorced and remarried, his father to an Argentine woman, and his mother to a Mexican-American.
Fukunaga said that his uncles and aunts are all elementary school teachers or scientists. His family moved around a lot within the San Francisco Bay Area, moving to Berkeley, Albany, Vallejo, Benicia, Sebastopol and back to Oakland.
Fukunaga originally wanted to be a pro snowboarder, but switched to filmmaking in his mid-twenties. He got his start as a camera intern and later applied to film school. He attended Analy High School. He graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a Bachelor of Arts in history in 1999, and attended the Grenoble Institute of Political Studies. He enrolled in New York University's Tisch School of the Arts Graduate Film Program.


Short films

Fukunaga wrote and directed the short film Victoria para Chino while at NYU, which screened at the Sundance Film Festival and received a Student Academy Award in 2005. The film won an Audience Award for Best Narrative Student Short film at the 2004 Austin Film Festival, a "Best Student Film" award at the 2006 Ashland Independent Film Festival, a "BAFTA/LA Award for Excellence – Honorable Mention" award at the 2005 Aspen Shortsfest, Best Student Film at the 2005 BendFilm Festival, Best Short Film and an Audience Award for Best Short Film at the 2005 Gen Art Film Festival, Best Short film at the 2005 Milan International Film Festival, and the Jury Prize for Best Student Short at the 2004 Woodstock Film Festival.
He has since written and directed the short films Kofi and Sleepwalking in the Rift. Fukunaga wrote and directed a segment in the omnibus film Chinatown Film Project.

Feature films

''Sin Nombre''

Fukunaga made his feature film debut with Sin Nombre, which he wrote and directed. It received positive reviews.
The film received a number of awards, including the Directing award at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and a "New Director's Award" for Fukunaga at the 2009 Edinburgh International Film Festival. In 2009, the film won "Best Foreign Language Film" awards from the Austin Film Critics Association, the Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards, the Florida Film Critics Circle Awards, the San Diego Film Critics Society Awards, and the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association Awards. The film's cinematographer, Adriano Goldman, won the Cinematography award at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, and at the 2009 Stockholm Film Festival, the film won a Best Actor award, as well as a Best Directorial Debut and FIPRESCI Prize for Fukunaga. Fukunaga won a 2010 Premios ACE award for "Cinema – Best First Work".
The film was nominated for Best Feature, Best Director and Best Cinematography from the 2010 Independent Spirit Awards, and was nominated by the 2009 British Independent Film Awards, the 2010 Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards, the 2009 Chicago Film Critics Association Awards, the 2010 Image Awards, the Bronze Horse at the 2009 Stockholm Film Festival and the 2009 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize.

''Jane Eyre''

In 2010, Fukunaga directed a new film adaptation of Jane Eyre starring Mia Wasikowska, Michael Fassbender, Jamie Bell and Judi Dench. The film was released in 2011 and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Achievement in Costume Design for Costume Designer Michael O'Connor and a 2012 Goya Award for Best European Film.
The film was nominated for a 2012 BAFTA Award, a 2012 Broadcast Film Critics Association Award, the 2012 Costume Designers Guild Awards, the 2012 Evening Standard British Film Awards, the 2011 Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards, the 2011 Satellite Awards.
The 2012 Australian Film Institute awards as well as the 2011 British Independent Film Awards nominated Mia Wasikowska for a "Best Actress" award. The film's screenplay and screenwriter Moira Buffini were nominated for a 2012 USC Scripter Award.

''Beasts of No Nation''

Fukunaga directed, wrote and filmed Beasts of No Nation, based on the novel of the same name by Uzodinma Iweala, in which Idris Elba stars as Commandant, a lead character. The movie was picked up by Netflix for a reported $12 million as part of an effort to expand into original films. On November 25, 2015, Fukunaga was nominated for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Director and Best Cinematography for his work on Beasts of No Nation, and the film received a nomination for Best Feature.


Fukunaga directed all eight episodes of the first season of the 2014 HBO TV series True Detective, which was written and created by novelist and screenwriter Nic Pizzolatto. The series stars Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson and Michelle Monaghan. Fukunaga served as an Executive Producer on the show. The series received critical praise and was nominated for five Primetime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Drama Series and Outstanding Directing for Fukunaga, who won. For the second season of True Detective, Fukunaga did not return as director, but continued to serve as executive producer.
Fukunaga was originally slated to direct the 2018 TNT TV series The Alienist. However, due to scheduling conflicts he was replaced by Jakob Verbruggen, although he retained a "created by" credit and remained as an executive producer.
Fukunaga directed all ten episodes of the dark comedy series Maniac for Netflix. It premiered on September 21, 2018.

Writing and producing

Fukunaga has written most of the films he has directed. The short films that he has written the screenplays for include Kofi and Victoria para chino. He wrote the screenplay to his feature film, Sin Nombre, as well as his segment for the omnibus film, Chinatown Film Project.
Through his production company, Parliament of Owls, Fukunaga has produced or served as executive producer on most of the projects he has directed. He was the executive producer for his short films Kofi and Victoria para chino. He was an executive producer on Andrew Okpeaha MacLean's feature film thriller, On the Ice, which won "Best Debut Film" and the "Crystal Bear" at the 2011 Berlin Film Festival, among other awards.
Fukunaga served as an executive producer for the HBO series he directed, True Detective. Warner Bros. chose Fukunaga to develop its adaptations of Stephen King's It, the first of which was initially due to start shooting in summer 2015. Fukunaga was set to direct the first film and was expected to co-write the second. Three weeks before production was slated to begin, Fukunaga left the project.

Cinematography and other work

Fukunaga served as a cinematographer on a number of short film projects, including Handmade , Sikumi, Team Queen , the feature documentary Death of Two Sons, the short films Clear Water, White, Kinnaq Nigaqtuqtuaq, Two Men and Mating Call.
He served as a camera operator on the short Glory at Sea , as a gaffer on the short film Just Make Believe , as an additional cinematographer on the TV documentary Small Steps: Creating the High School for Contemporary Arts, assistant camera on the short film Dock, additional photography for the documentary Lockdown, USA, additional camera for Autumn's Eyes, a grip on the feature film Mango Kiss, and as an additional film loader on the feature film Black Cadillac.

Future projects

Fukunaga is planned to serve as executive producer for the follow-up series to The Alienist, The Angel Of Darkness, based on the novel of the same name.
In February 2017, it was reported Fukunaga was in talks to direct Shockwave, a drama about the lead-up to the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.
On September 20, 2018, it was announced that Fukunaga would be the director of the upcoming James Bond film No Time to Die. He will be the first American filmmaker to direct an official Bond film.
Since May 2016, it was reported that Fukunaga, alongside Spielberg, could finalize the long-sought epic film about Napoleon that Stanley Kubrick worked on until the last days of his life. In September 2018, Fukunaga confirmed the reports, saying that he is already working with HBO on the film. In the same interview he said he was working on a project about Hiroshima and another on a book written by Alexandre Dumas.

Personal life

Fukunaga lives in New York City. He has lived in France, Japan, Mexico City, and London, and is fluent in French and Spanish. He counts screenwriter Naomi Foner as a mentor.



Executive producer

As cinematographer only



2005Sundance Film Festival Honorable Mention in Short FilmmakingVictoria para Chino
2005Aspen Shortsfest Jury Award for Best Student FilmVictoria para Chino
2005Austin Festival Audience Award for Best Narrative ShortVictoria para Chino
2005Britannia LA Award for ExcellenceVictoria para Chino
2005Student Academy Award for Best Narrative ShortVictoria para Chino
2005Ashland Independent Film Award for Best Student FilmVictoria para Chino
2009Sundance Film Festival Dramatic Directing AwardSin Nombre
2009Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize: DramaticSin Nombre
2009Edinburgh International Film Festival New Director's AwardSin Nombre
2009Deauville Jury Special PrizeSin Nombre
2009FIPRESCI PrizeSin Nombre
2009Deauville Grand Special PrizeSin Nombre
2009Stockholm Bronze HorseSin Nombre
2009Golden Venice LionSin Nombre
2010Independent Spirit Award for Best DirectorSin Nombre
2012Goya Award for Best European FilmJane Eyre
2014Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for a Drama SeriesTrue Detective
2014Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama SeriesTrue Detective
2015Producers Guild of America Award for Best Episodic DramaTrue Detective
2015Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing – Drama SeriesTrue Detective
2015British Academy Television Award for Best International ProgrammeTrue Detective
2015Golden LionBeasts of No Nation
2016Independent Spirit Award for Best FeatureBeasts of No Nation
2016Independent Spirit Award for Best DirectorBeasts of No Nation
2016Independent Spirit Award for Best CinematographyBeasts of No Nation
2016American Society of Cinematographers Spotlight AwardBeasts of No Nation
2016Peabody AwardBeasts of No Nation
2017Bram Stoker Award for Best ScreenplayIt
2018Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Limited SeriesThe Alienist
2018IndieWire Honors Auteur Award
2019Producers Guild of America Award for Outstanding Producer of Limited Series TelevisionManiac
2019Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing – Miniseries or TV FilmManiac