It may seem surprising that a Japanese American is one of the great European animators. But with a track record in Europe stretching back the best part of three decades, Jimmy Murakami is very much a part of the European scene. Born in California, he has spent much of his life based either in Dublin or London.
Following a course in Choinard Art Institute, Los Angeles, Jimmy joined the UPA Burbank Studio in 1956. The following year he moved to New York to join the Pintoff Studio, where one of his films was the Oscar nominated The Violinist.
In 1960 he moved to London and worked for four years as a producer and director with TV Cartoons. His films with the studio included the BAFTA winning The Insects and Charlie (which won a Gold Award at the Venice Film Festival).
In 1965 Jimmy returned to California to establish Murakami Wolf Films, producing and directing theatrical shorts, documentary film, television specials and commercials. Among the projects that he directed and animated at this time were The Breath (Annecy Grand Prix), The Magic Pear Tree (an Oscar nomination), And of Course You, Golden Eagle Award winner and The Good Friend.
In 1971 he set up Murakami Films in Dublin, producing both live and animated TV commercials. In 1980 in Los Angeles, he directed a live action feature film Battle beyond the Stars-a space version of The Seven Samurai-for cult producer Roger Corman.
More recently, he has worked as director of a series of 13 half-hour programmes of The Story Keepers for Shepherd Films, Dublin ITV and Fox Network and 26 half hours of Inspector Mouse, produced by Alegro Animation in Dublin and PMMP in Paris.
Christmas 1998 saw the screening of his latest work a director, Oi Get off Our Train. Made by Varga/TVC in London, this was a 28-minute television special for the BBC, Miramax and ZDF.
Jimmy Murakami has completed directing a new feature film version of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol-The Movie produced by London based Illuminated Film Company and released for Christmas 2001.