Film director Takeshi Kitano received France’s highest honor for arts and culture this month for “bringing spontaneity and a message of freedom” to his big-screen productions. “Receiving this decoration is like a dream,” Kitano told the Associated Press on being named a Commander of the Order of the Arts and Letters. “I feel uneasy about whether I merit this honor, but I will make my best efforts at being worthy of it.” Kitano, better known in Japan as a comedian under the name Beat Takeshi, debuted as a film director in 1989 with Violent Cop. He won the Golden Lion for best movie at the Venice Film Festival with Hanabi in 1997.
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