The film Ainu Mosir (released on Netflix), directed by emerging Japanese filmmaker Takeshi Fukunaga, depicts an Ainu (indigenous) boy’s life story in modern society, and shows his ambivalence to his traditional Ainu heritage. The film gives a multifaceted picture of the Ainu community and culture, as well as the generational differences within it. Fukunaga’s upbringing in Hokkaido (where the indigenous Ainu people mostly live), and his experience of living as part of a minority group for sixteen years in New York, have led him to develop a unique style of film-making.
As a Japanese filmmaker, Fukunaga looks for ways to tell his stories truthfully, without preconceived notions. The result is a fictional film set in a real Ainu community in Akan, Hokkaido, starring Ainu non-actors playing themselves – including the lead actors, who have never acted in a film before. Fukunaga hopes that the film gives Ainu people a voice, and helps to create a better understanding of them.
In this talk chaired by Alastair Phillips, the film will be examined from various perspectives. Why did Fukunaga make this film now? How is the film perceived in Japan and elsewhere? What implications might it have for the Ainu community?
Date: Tuesday 23 February 2021
UK Time: 12:00pm-1:30pm (GMT)
Japan Time: 9:00pm-10:30pm (GMT+9)
About the contributors
Alastair Phillips is Professor of Film Studies at the University of Warwick. He has worked for the British Film Institute (BFI) and the Edinburgh International Film Festival, is an editor of Screen, and serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Japanese and Korean Cinema, the BFI Film Classics series, and Bloomsbury Publishing’s Screen Studies platform. His research interests incorporate the fields of international film history, culture, and aesthetics with special emphasis on French and Japanese filmmaking, and his current projects include a BFI Classic on Yasujirō Ozu’s Tokyo Story (1953). Among his extensive publications is the recent volume The Japanese Cinema Book, co-edited with Hideaki Fujiki (London: British Film Institute, 2020).
Takeshi Fukunaga is a filmmaker born and raised in Hokkaido, Japan. After living in the US for 16 years, he moved his base to Tokyo in 2019. His first feature film, Out of My Hand, premiered in the Panorama section of the Berlin International Film Festival in 2015, won the US Fiction Award, the top prize at the LA Film Festival, and the Emerging Filmmaker Award at the San Diego Asian American Film Festival. The film was nominated for the John Cassavetes Independent Spirit Award and released worldwide through Ava DuVernay’s ARRAY in 2016. Takeshi was selected for a Cannes Film Festival Cinéfondation Residence and the Sam Spiegel International Film Lab to develop his second feature film, Ainu Mosir. The film was made as a Japan/US/China co-production and won a Special Jury Mention in the International Narrative Competition at the Tribeca Film Festival, and Best Film at the 2020 Guanajuato Film Festival. It is streaming on Netflix in English-speaking countries, and showing at cinemas across Japan.
Debo Akibe was born in 1960 at Lake Akan Onsen, and he is a performer of traditional Ainu dances. As well as operating a craft goods shop in the Lake Akan Kotan (village) in Kushiro, Hokkaido, he choreographs and performs traditional dances. He is also Managing Director of the Akan Ainu Craft Association. He is one of the actors in Ainu Mosir.