Cary Joji Fukunaga (born July 10, 1977) is an American film director, writer, and cinematographer. He is known for writing and directing the 2009 film Sin Nombre, the 2011 film Jane Eyre and for directing and executive producing 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 has received acclaim for the 2015 war drama Beasts of No Nation, in which Fukunaga was writer, director, producer, and cinematographer.
Fukunaga was born in Oakland, California. His father Anthony Shuzo Fukunaga was a third-generation Japanese-American, born in a Japanese internment camp during World War II, who worked for a generator company and later for the University of California, Berkeley. His mother Gretchen May Grufman is Swedish-American, who worked as a dental hygienist and later as a history teacher. 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 graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a Bachelor of Arts in history in 1999, and attended Institut d’études politiques (IEP) de Grenoble. He enrolled in New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts Graduate Film Program.