In a village that appears to be the vestige of pre-modern Japanese mores, a young hunter struggles over the choice of whether or not killing an animal stigmatized as detrimental to society. By portraying the internal conflict of a man loosing sight of his aim among the clashing realms of nature and mankind, the sacred and the mundane, reality and myth, The Albino’s Trees addresses the urgency of reconciliation in an age of escalating conflict, prejudice and violence.
Yuku is a hunter who works for animal damage control programmes in the mountains of central Japan. In order to afford the medical bills for the treatment of his mother’s illness, he accepts a lucrative contract to kill a rare, white deer that lives in the forest by a remote village, and whose presence is thought to undermine tourism in the region by the neighbouring town’s bureaucrats. As he ventures into the village, however, he discovers that the animal is venerated as a god by the local community, which lives in a state of semi-isolation from the rest of society. While assessing his ethical responsibilities in undertaking such a task, he gets closer to inhabitants of the village, facing their conflicting emotions as to whether they should keep living as “outsiders”.
Masakazu Kaneko was born in Tokyo in 1978. In 2000, he graduated at Aoyama Gakuin University in International Politics, Economics and Communication. During university, he began making short films on 8mm and 16mm. After graduation, he studied at The Film School of Tokyo with Takahisa Zeze, director of Heaven’s Story (FIPRESCI Prize at the 61st Berlin International Film Festival). Kaneko’s debut film Sumire Ningyo (2008) was screened at the Japan-Filmfest Hamburg in Germany and in Japanese theatres. Since then, he has directed six short films. The Albino’s Trees is his second feature film.
Sumire ningyo (2008, 63 min); Rapunzel (Kagami no musume, 2008, 18 min); Konagona (2009, 10 min); Lost Story (Ushinawareru monogatari, 2009, 34 min); The Man Who Restores (Fukugen-shi, 2010, 29 min); Camera Obscura (Mizu no Ashiato, 2013, 30 min); Secret Meeting (Ouse, 2013, 36 min); The Albino's Trees (Albino no ki, 2016, 86 min).
Being human inevitably implies the killing of other living things. Yet we often lack the real sense of what killing means, and our awareness of it is usually limited to some numbers on a paper. Indeed, especially for those like me who have been growing up in a metropolis, there’s the tendency to overlook the fact that our everyday life entails the sacrifice of other lives, and we are too often driven by egoism in trying to protect ourselves and those close to us at the expense of others. In this movie, by focusing on the struggle of a man over the life and death of an animal, I tried to express not only the constantly problematic relationship between people and nature, but the importance of thinking about others as well.
CAST & CREW
Ryohei Matsuoka as Yuku, Kanako Higashi as Nagi, Yusuke Fukuchi as Yoichi, Kinuo Yamada as Izumi, Hatsunori Hasegawa as Hiura, Shuichiro Masuda as Imamori, Ai Ozaki as Aya, Hiroyuki Matsukage as Nemoto, Manabu Hosoi as Murata, Mari Matsunaga as Yuko, Chie Yamaguchi as Chitose
Screenplay: Masakazu Kaneko / Miyuki Kaneko, DoP: Masakazu Kaneko, Assistant Camera: Tetsuya Azuma, Lighting Technician: Hiroaki Shiraishi, Sound Recording: Tsubasa Mano, Art Director / Costume Design: Miyuki Kaneko, Makeup: Kanako Chino / Keishiro Suzuki, Assistant Director: Hirohito Takino / Tomoshi Noboriyama , Director’s Assistant: Yuichiro Fukuda, Production Manager: Ai Nagura / Kurato Horiuchi, Sound Design: Yong-Chang Hwang, Visual Effects: Koya Takahashi / Aya Takahashi, Music: Eiko Ishibashi, Location Co-ordinator: Fumihiro Sakazume, Location Support: Suzaka City / Nagano Prefecture, Producer: Keiko Kusakabe / Aki Nagamura / Masakazu Kaneko / Miyuki Kaneko Director / Film Editor: Masakazu Kaneko, Production: kinone, Distributed by Makotoya Co.,Ltd. ©kinone
2016 | JAPAN | 2.0ch & 5.1ch | shot by NIKON D7100 | master data: H.264＆PRORES422HQ(29.97P & 24P)｜screening media: DCP or Blu-ray｜16:9 | 86 min. | Language: Japanese | Drama
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Text by Jacopo Bortolussi