Film representations of the Ainu people have existed since the inception of cinema which is the result of the Euro American fascination for Ainu images since the second-half of the 19th century. However, visual representations have not remained stable over time. Outsiders initially created through photography and cinema certain codes of representation depicting the Ainu “other” primitives. These images projected ahistorical views of the Ainu, concealing issues of discrimination and social stigmatization as well as their adaptation to modern life and assimilation to the Japanese culture. While this pattern projecting a romanticised image of the Ainu community, disconnected from their social reality, has pervaded film representations for decades, it started to be challenged in ethnographic documentaries particularly since the 1970s. In a context of revitalisation of Ainu culture, the full-length documentary Ainu. Pathways to Memory (Marcos Centeno, 2014) revolves around contemporary concerns on preservation and dissemination of Ainu culture today. The discussion will pose questions regarding the validity of documentary films as ethnographic and social documents.
Marcos Centeno is currently Council on East Asian Studies grant holder at Yale University. He teaches Film, Media and Japanese Studies at the University of Valencia and is Honorary Research Fellow at Birkbeck, University of London, where he has been the Japanese Studies Programme director and coordinates the research seminar Memorial Sites. Acts of remembering through Media and Visual Culture. Before that, Centeno had been lecturer in Film Studies for the Department of Japan and Korea at SOAS, University of London where he coordinated the MA Global Cinemas and the Transcultural. His main research interests revolve around Japanese documentary film, including film theory, transnationality and film representation of the Ainu people. His most recent projects Japanese Documentary Filmmaker Haneda Sumiko (2021-22) as well as Japanese Transnational Cinema (2018-19) were sponsored by several British and Japanese institutions.
Screening details: Ainu. Pathways to Memory (Dir. Marcos Centeno, 82min, 2014). Prizes:
-Best the Documentary. Visual Anthropology Showcase of Madrid, MAAM-CSIC.
-Best Film. Category of Human Rights. International Festival of Indigenous Film, FICVI Mexico.
-Best Film. Category of Interculturality. Cine Invisible Film Festival, Spain
-Best Director of a Foreign Film. Zlatna Ethnographic Film Festival, Romania
-Audience Award. Clam International Film Festival, Barcelona.
-Special Mention. Intimate Lens Film Documentary, Caserta, Italy.
Venue: 401 Fisher-Bennett Hall, 3340 Walnut Street.