JAPANESE director Ichikawa Jun is probably best known to audiences for Tony Takitani.
His 2004 film, based on Murakami Haruki's short story, quietly observes the unexpected romance of a solitary man.
The 59-year-old says in an e-mail interview: 'It was challenging for me to express the sense of 'solitude', which is like a gene being passed from one human to another, visualised through the performance of actors.'
The film starred well-known Japanese actors Ogata Issei and Miyazawa Rie.
It won several prizes at the Locarno International Film Festival, including the FIPRESCI (International Federation of Film Critics) prize.
Ichikawa will be here as the director-in-attendance at this year's Japanese Film Festival. The festival, which runs from Saturday to Sept 23, will feature three of his films, including his latest, How To Become Myself, about two girls struggling to define their identities in modern Japanese society.
There will be a discussion with the director after the screening next Thursday at 7.30pm at the National Museum's Gallery Theatre.
Some of the themes in Tony Takitani had previously surfaced in Tokyo Marigold (2001), another festival offering.
Ichikawa explains: 'Loneliness and the fragility of relationships are themes that can be equally found in almost all the films that have moved me. I also keep making films about people who are reborn from such a status.'
The Tokyo-born director started out in advertising and won the grand prize at the Cannes International Advertising Festival in 1985.
There seems to be a jarring contrast between the fast-paced world of advertisements and his humanist, contemplative dramas.
He says: 'I don't think there is a direct connection between them. However, I tend to apply a taste of documentary to both media.
'Honestly speaking, a film is a purely creative endeavour while I make commercials to make ends meet.'
The screenings for Japanese Film Festival 2007: True.Romance will be at the National Museum's Gallery Theatre. See www.sfs.org.sg for more details.
For screenings which are not marked Free Admission, tickets at $10 are available from Gatecrash (http://www.gatecrash.com.sg/, tel: 6222-5595), at The Substation, SingPost branches and SAM kiosks.