Takashi Miike

Born Aug. 24, 1960, in Osaka, Japan, director Takashi Miike harbored a passion for motorbike racing and a disdain for academics growing up, eventually enrolling in the Yokohama Vocational School of Broadcast and Film.

Miike was soon pegged to work as an unpaid assistant at a local TV company. Nearly a decade of TV work followed, and by the early 1990s, Miike had assumed the director's mantel. Since then, Miike has proved a prolific helmsman, churning out 24 films between 1999 and 2002 -- many of them (such as 1999's Audition and the yakuza epic Dead or Alive) notable for their black humor, over-the-top violence and shocking sexual situations.

Miike, however, has also made children's films (Zebraman), period pieces (Sabu) and even a horror musical (The Happiness of the Katakuris). He received a Golden Lion nod at the Venice Film Festival for 2007's Sukiyaki Western Django.