Filmmakers Conversation: Short Films of the Ainu

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August 23rd, 2023 @ 6:00 pm - August 26th, 2023 @ 11:59 pm EDT

Cost: Free
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Filmmakers Conversation: Short Films of the Ainu

Watch now on the JFT Youtube Channel

In conjunction with our online film program, Short Films of the Ainu, we invite you to join us for a special conversation about the preservation of Ainu culture, family, language, and identity, through the lens of documentary filmmaking.

Our guests include YAMADA Yuichiro, an award-winning Hokkaido-based filmmaker, who directed the two contemporary documentaries Happy Ainu and rametokkor yan that centres on the Sekine family and their efforts in saving the Ainu language. We also welcome MIZOGUCHI Naomi, a filmmaker based in New York who will be speaking on behalf of KAYANO Shiro, the director behind the ethnographic documentaries TONOTO Kamuy, a Spirit of Sake and Language is the Proof of People — A Story about Canoe-Making. Naomi’s company, GARA FILMS, serves as the distributor of Director Kayano’s films and helped facilitate their English translation and subtitling.

This talk is presented in English. 

Notes from Director KAYANO Shiro:

The director’s father, KAYANO Shigeru (1926-2006), was one of the last native speakers of the Ainu language, and a leader of the Ainu’s ethnic movement in Japan in the 1990s. He wrote over 100 books about Ainu culture and language and recorded traditional stories which were passed down only orally. He was also famous for being the first Ainu politician in the Japanese Diet. His effort led to the enactment of a law to promote Ainu culture in1997, and this led to the law in 2019, which categorized the Ainu as indigenous people in Japan for the first time in history.

Shiro inherited his father’s legacy and has been leading the Nibutani Language Class as well as FM Pipausi, the first Ainu community radio station. FM Piapusi has broadcast over 260 shows since 2001.

Director Biography – YAMADA Yuichiro:

YAMADA Yuichiro is a filmmaker based in Hokkaido, Japan. After graduating from the graduate school of the University at Buffalo, the State University of New York in 2010, he started “Yamada Art Film” in Japan. He is involved in video production for educational institutions and local governments, and creates short documentaries. In 2018, he received the Hokkaido Director’s Award at the Sapporo International Short Film Festival. In 2021, he won the Director of the Year award in the Yahoo! Japan Creators Program, and in the following year, 2022, he received the Docs for SDGs Award at Tokyo Docs.

Related Programming:

Short Films of the Ainu

Streaming Canada-wide until Saturday, August 26, 11:59PM (ET)

In recognition of International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples on August 9, the Japan Foundation, Toronto is delighted to present a selection of rare short films that explore the Ainu language, history, canoe-making, sake, and modern life. While the films present contrasting perspectives of the historic and the contemporary, to show important traditions as well as modern Ainu lives, there are themes of ethnography, preservation, and survival that bind all of them. Watch here.


August 23rd, 2023 @ 6:00 pm
August 26th, 2023 @ 11:59 pm
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The Japan Foundation, Toronto
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The Japan Foundation, Toronto
2 Bloor St. East, 3rd Floor
Toronto, ON M4W 1A8 Canada
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