TUE | 20. 2. | 18:00
Director: FUKUNAGA Takeshi
Cast: SHIMOKURA Kanto, SHIMOKURA Emi, AKIBE Debo, MIURA Toko, LILY Franky
Kanto (14) is a descendant of Japan’s indigenous Ainu nation. He helps her mum run her souvenir shop in a small town on the Hokkaido Island that thrives on travel. Kanto loses his father at an age when he needs him the most. Community leader Debo becomes his guide through adolescence. He tells him of a place where the living can meet the dead. At the same time, the community is getting ready for a traditional ritual that involves a bear. The animal is linked to the Ainu nation’s culture as strongly as the ritual is controversial for today’s society. Kanto must decide whether to become part of the rough tradition or give it up. Today’s Ainu present a cursory version of their culture to preserve the real one, tightly intertwined with nature. All the characters in the film are played by non-actors. They are genuine Hokkaido denizens, adding authenticity to the film. Coproduced by Japan, the USA, and China, the film won a special jury mention at the Tribeca International Film Festival 2020.
Ainu are the indigenous people who have primarily been residing in northern Japan, Hokkaido, and have a unique philosophy and culture deeply rooted in nature. They were subjected to forced assimilation for many years, which to this day causes many Ainu descendants to struggle to maintain their sense of identity. During the five years of making this film, I met many inu people and learned about their culture and unique problems they face today. Akan had the most unique Ainu community amongst places I visited. The paradox that people in Akan try to be true to their culture while making a living by presenting a superficial version of their culture to tourists is the epitome of the complicated situation Ainu people face today. It was crucial to work with Ainu non actors who actually live in the town to bring out authentic nuances. My hope is for this film to be an instrument to hear the voice of Ainu people who are still underrepresented in Japanese society today. Essentially, this is a coming-of-age story about a boy who tries to come to terms with the loss of his father. I believe this is a universal story that resonates with people regardless of their backgrounds.
© AINU MOSIR LLC / Booster Project