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Ainu Neno An Ainu (Trailer)

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AINU NENO AN AINU (2021) dir. Laura Liverani, Neo Sora prod. Valý Þórsteinsdóttir

A documentary film by Lunch BEE House

A cinematic family photo album of a remote village in Hokkaido, where the Ainu, the indigenous population of northern Japan, have kept their culture and language alive despite a history of Japanese colonization.

Ainu Neno An Ainu collects the stories of the Ainu, the indigenous population of northern Japan. The film is an interwoven set of stories narrated by Maya, a young Ainu who grew up in the remote Hokkaido village of Nibutani. As a college student Maya's goal is to revitalize the Ainu language and culture, making it more accessible to future generations of both Ainu and Japanese.

Maya's voice guides the audience as other villagers tell their stories and portray the histories of their community, from their individual and collective journey of forced assimilation and discrimination to the revitalization of their own language and culture. The cast is comprised of the people who live in the village of Nibutani, which hosts a population that is over 70 percent of Ainu descent.

The stories of Nibutani form an extended family album, revealing a tight-knit community deeply involved in both recovering and reinventing their Ainu heritage after a history of Japanese colonization, including their orally passed down language, one which is woven deeply into the Ainu way of life.

Lunch Bee House (Laura Liverani, Neo Sora, Valý Þórsteinsdóttir)
Japan, 72 min
Directed by Neo Sora and Laura Liverani
Creative Producer: Valy Thorsteinsdottir
DoP: Neo Sora
2nd Camera Operator: Laura Liverani
Editor: Takuya Kawakami
Co-editor: Neo Sora

Lunch Bee House (Laura Liverani, Neo Sora, Valý Þórsteinsdóttir) is a collective of international creators with eclectic backgrounds and interests, from still and moving image to music, art and anthropology. Questioning the idea of individual authorship and hierarchy in film and art production, Lunch Bee House shares a passion for experimentation and collaborative modes of self production. The name Lunch Bee House is an homage to an Ainu restaurant in Nibutani run by Yukiko Kaizawa, one of the protagonists of the film.

Lunch Bee House was formed in 2014 to tell the stories of the Ainu, the indigenous population of northern Japan. Determined to collect Ainu narratives under different forms, from still photography to moving image, we started what we called "a punk band of documentary filmmaking." The idea was to work on both a documentary film and a photo series with an anticorporate, D.I.Y approach. Later we spent two months living with the Ainu community in Nibutani, Hokkaido, to shoot Ainu Neno An Ainu, a documentary project that is both a photographic series and a film.

Before starting our documentary project, we had no connections with the protagonists of our film. During a field trip to research Ainu history and culture in Hokkaido, we visited the village of Nibutani, known for its rich indigenous cultural heritage, and decided to set our project there; the main reason for this decision was meeting Maya, the young narrator our film, and her extended family. We immediately felt we were welcomed in the community; our idea of making a documentary that would try to highlight issues relating to the past and present histories of the Ainu through personal stories and memories was met with enthusiasm. Later on we went to live in Nibutani, in close contact with Maya's extended family and the rest of the community, for two months. During shooting we were "adopted" into the community, and started a long-lasting friendship that extends beyond the making of the documentary project and continues today, through frequent contact and reciprocal visits. Being adopted into the community is a traditional Ainu practice called Utari, that still survives today in different forms.

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