The Albino,s Trees
Japan. 2016. 86 min
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”.
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.
Kaneko was born in 1978 in Tokyo.
He graduated from Aoyama Gakuin University, School of International Politics, in Economics & Communication. During university, he started to make film essays on 8mm and 16mm film.
After graduating from university, he went to The Film School of Tokyo and studied under Takahisa Zeze, the director of “Heaven’s Story”, which won the FIPRESCI Prize at the 61st Berlin International Film Festival.
His proposal was selected by the school for a scholarship towards his graduation project.
The result was his debut film “Sumire Ningyo”, which was officially screened at Japan-Filmfest Hamburg in Germany.
Since then, while working as a director and cameraman for educational movies and commercials, he has directed 6 short films.
In 2016, he completed his second feature film “The Albino’s Trees”. This film was screened at Beijing International Film Festival 2016 (China) as an international premiere. After that several international film festivals have chosen this, for example India, Ireland, Portugal, Sweden, Germany, Taiwan. And so far this film has won 10 awards around the world including the Best Feature Film Award by Figueira Film Art 2017 (Portugal).