A Letter (temporary title)

A FILM BY Hiroshi Sunairi
HD (Duration 11:42)


In a park of New York City, Genoel recites a letter. The letter reveals his experience of having crossed the border from Mexico to the US with a group of men and women, meeting a guy who later had gotten hurt and couldn’t travel anymore and the remorse Genoel feels about having left the guy in the middle of the desert.


early elephant film ⓒ 2016



HD film (Duration: 09:04)

In Hiroshima, there are about 170 Hibaku trees (trees that survived the atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki). One of the Hibaku, Jujube is weak and undergoing treatment to survive.

PUBLIC TREATMENTImage and Sound: Hiroshi Sunairi
Producer: Joel Kimbeck
Aborist: Chikara Horiguchi
Text: adapted from John Cage’s “Indeterminacy”
Special Thanks: Jill Godmilow & Chikara Horiguchi


A young Mexican poet, Jose Luis Rico recites his poem, “Port” on a swaying ferry that sails up the East River in New York.

early elephant film presents

A FILM BY Hiroshi Sunairi
Duration: 00:26:27


About the film:

On a swaying ferry that sails up the East River in New York, Jose Luis Rico recites “Port”, a poem that reflects on the shift in his and his friend Luis Alberto’s life as they came of age in the midst of the drug wars in Mexico.

The film is shot as one long take of the recitation among the moving sceneries. with a sunset, a fluttering flag in the wind, ferry tourists, the iconic New York skyline and a helicopter that takes off into the autumn sky.

This is an introduction short film as well as a 26-minute-trailer for a feature length film (work in progress) shot in Juarez, Mexico.





  • Experimental Forum 2017 Honorable Mention Award
  • 11/18/2017 – FILMVIRUS WILDTYPE:  Rhizome program, Bangkok, Thailand


early elephant film presenta

UNA PELICULA de Hiroshi Sunairi
Duración 00:26:27

CAMAROGRAFO Motomu Ishigaki

Sobre la película:

En un ferry navega meciéndose por el East River en Nueva York, José Luis Rico recita ¨Puerto¨, un poema que reflexiona sobre el viraje en su vida y en la de su amigo Luis Alberto causado por el estallido de la guerra contra las drogas en México, durante su adolescencia.

La película consiste en una sola toma de la recitación entre los escenarios en movimiento con un ocaso, una bandera que ondula en el viento, turistas, el icónico paisaje urbano de Nueva York y un helicóptero que despega hacia el cielo otoñal.

Agradecimiento especial: EAST RIVER FERRY, NYC


48 years – 沈黙の独裁者

48 years – Silent Dictator

A glimpse into a labyrinth of delusions in the mind of Iwao Hakamada, known as the world’s longest-held death row inmate.

監督・撮影・編集 Director/DP/Editing
砂入博史 Hiroshi Sunairi
HD – Duration: 01:17:47




Iwao Hakamada, a former professional boxer, was sentenced to death in 1968 for mass murder and held on death row for 48 years, the longest stint in history. In 2014, he was granted an immediate release when the Shizuoka district court found that the evidence against him had been fabricated.  Mr. Hakamada now lives peacefully with his sister in Hamamatsu.

This documentary was filmed in 2015, one year after Mr. Hakamada’s discharge. In interviewing Mr. Hakamada, now 79 years old and still suffering from prison psychosis, this record attempts to capture the immeasurable solitude of nearly half a century.  Walking alongside Hakamada through his labyrinth of delusions, amidst fading memories and the powerful will to victory, it glimpses into Hakamada’s complicated psychology, a web of opaque logic warped by his life’s predicament.

袴田巌 Iwao Hakamada
袴田秀子 Hideko Hakamada

記録/聞き取り Document/Interview
砂入博史 Hiroshi Sunairi

プロデューサー Producer
ジョエル・キンベック Joel Kimbeck

アソシエイトプロデューサー Associate Producer
角尾宣信 Yoshinobu Tsunoo
柴田とし Toshi Shibata
寺澤暢紘 Nobuhiro Terasawa
砂入隆夫 Takao Sunairi
砂入文子 Fumiko Sunairi

英語字幕 English Subtitle
砂入博史 Hiroshi Sunairi & サム・ベット Sam Bett

音楽 Music
プレリュード prelude 永井晶子 & 武石聡 Shoko Nagai & Satoshi Takeishi
エピローグ epilogue 小野雄紀 Yuuki Ono


清水撮影案内 Shimizu location guide
山崎俊樹 Toshiki Yamazaki

コンタクト Contact
瑞慶覧 Atsushi Zuraken

スペシャルサンクス Special Thanks
小野孝司 Koji Ono & 小野光代 Mitsuyo Ono
Hamamatsu Citizen Association for Saving Iwao Hakamada
Shimizu Citizen Association for rescuing Iwao Hakamada
Japan Association for Social Justice and Human Rights

early elephant film ⓒ 2017

Ayta’s Tree Project – Why do we have to grow seeds of trees that survived the atomic bombings?


Project Description: In the Philippines, over the course of 4 years, Ayta’s Tree Project will create a forest from tree seeds that survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Major events in the process will be documented for a feature film, Ayta’s Tree Project.

After the eruption of a sacred Mt. Pinatubo in 1991, Ayta, the indigenous people/the earliest inhabitants of the Philippines evacuated and moved to the lower-altitude resettlement area of Pampanga. The modern Philippines affords them no protection socially, politically or financially as their lives have been unchanged for thousands of years.

In Hiroshima, there are trees that survived the atomic bombing called Hibaku trees. Ayta will cultivate the seeds of the Hibaku trees into a forest on the land owned by a leader of one of the Ayta tribes, Roman King.  First, 50 seeds will be planted in pots in an area protected by roof so they can be germinated.  After 48 months, the mature seedlings with proper stems will be re-planted into the ground.  The 4-year forest propagation will be documented and ultimately shape into a feature film that explores the history and culture of the Aytas and the Philippines.

Approach: Ayta’s Tree Project connects the resilience of life after the destruction of Hiroshima with the survival of the Aytas in contemporary Philippines.   This forest symbolically and substantially manifests the Ayta’s resistance to the modernization and industrialization of their lands.  The film will document the evolution of the forest cultivated by the Aytas but also unfold the Ayta’s struggle for existence in a greater context of their daily lives, the history and their evolution in a turbulent present.

Impact: This project will manifest as a platform for how the reservation can be used while providing Aytas opportunities.  When visiting the Pampanga in the Philippines early this year, Sunairi met Roman King who has close connections to other Ayta tribes.  Roman will also act as the manager of this project and his knowledge will assist in acclimatizing Aytas in modern society. Together, they will host events, such as showcases, workshops and gatherings for the Aytas. Sunairi will also exhibit and present the documentations and film in the Philippines as well as the US and the world.

Audiences/Communities: First and foremost, Sunairi hopes to reach the larger population of the Aytas, the horticultural community, NGOs and Ayta scholars with topics on afforestation, land use, ecology and indigenous culture in the Philippines and the world.  Ultimately, when this film is presented in institutions as a film screening, exhibition, symposium, workshop and gathering accompanied by Ayta Cuisine. Sunairi also intends to invite key persons from South East Asian countries to further spread the Tree Projects in Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Myanmar, China, Indonesia, South Korea and Cambodia. All of these counties have a complex relationship with the Japanese involving the occupation during WII, which may lead to other interesting projects in the future.

Venues: The forest of Ayta’s Tree Project will be in the reservation owned by Roman King in Claks, a former United States Air Force base and a major center for staging Japanese air operations during the WWII.  It is a site layered with politics, history and culture.  As this project eventually aims to present a feature film, the film will reflect the process, the research and historical context. The film/documentations can be shown in film festivals and museums that Sunairi has worked within the Philippines and in other counties.

Catalyst / Pivotal Moment: Since 2006, Sunairi has given countless seeds to people around the world through the Tree Project.  Roman King believes this project combined with additional information can become a business model that could preserve and protect the Ayta land and the people.  This long-term project with Ayta’s involvement signals possible growth for their community.  Devoting 4 years to a film project, through research collecting archival footages, shooting and experimenting with culture, history, staging situations and working with the Aytas, will exceed Sunairi’s past projects in scale and ambition.


Phase 1: Preliminary sprouting: In July, 100 Hibaku seeds will be shipped to Philippine.  In August, two Aytas will prep the seeds in moist tissues.  The sprouts will be planted in pots under the shelter to prevent direct sunlight.  This process takes about 1 month and will conclude with a commencement with the Ayta cuisine.

In Phase 2: Cultivation: Roman King will monitor and foster the strength of stems over 36 months, by watering, fertilizing and re-planting into bigger pots to boost the roots. The seedlings will be exposed to direct sunlight gradually.  The artist will visit yearly to record.  There will be workshops of the Ayta cuisine as well as a symposium on the Ayta culture and their plant ecology at university.

In Phase 3: Planting on land: for 2 weeks, 4 Aytas will plant the seedlings on Roman King’s land, designated for the project.

In Phase 4: Monitoring the maturation: Roman King will cultivate the growth over 12 months with slow watering system with the bamboo and water bags dripping on each seedlings.  With the completion of the project, we will showcase Ayta’s Tree Project’s effort in documentations as well as the film in Museum or gallery.

きねんさつえい – ななかぞくのシャシン

Kinen Satsuei – Nanakazoku No Shashin
(Commemorative Photo – a picture of seven families)

A film by Hiroshi Sunairi
Duration: 00:10:45

撮影:大武写真館 (Photo: Otake Photo Studio) 2013

On a bright day of March 2013, my brother got married at the Itsukushima Shrine at Miya Island of Hiroshima, one of the most scenic spots in Japan. This 10-min-long-take film examines the culture, habit and process of seven families getting ready for a wedding commemorative photo.


– 砂入博史


First Row
Kouta Sunairi, Fumiko Sunairi, Takao Sunairi, Masayuki Sunairi, Chiaki Takahashi, Akio Takahashi, Fumi Takahashi, Koutarou Takahashi, Nanako Takahashi

Second Row
Karin & Kumiko Sunairi, Tsuyoshi Washio, Yusuke Washio, Junko Sunairi, Nobuhiro Tajima, Kiyoshi Sunairi, Hiroshi Sunairi, Reiko Washio, Yusuke Washio, Saeko Takahashi, Yoko Shinjou, Kouichi Shinjou






Conceived, cinematography, edited and directed by Hiroshi Sunairi
Produced by Joel Kimbeck
Associate producer: Yao Yaocihuatzin and Tlalcihuatzin Montse Olmos
Sound by Yoon Choi
Music Score: Kalpulli Huehuetlahtolli
Duration: 01:13:53
Subtitle: English
Language/Dialogue: English, Anahuac and Spanish

q. Cosmic Movements - MIHTOTILIZTLI, 2015, HD film


Brief Summary

In New York and New Jersey, there is a group of Mexican Americans and Chicanos – indigenous people with roots in Mexico practicing the tradition of Anahuac (Aztec). The film follows danza (dance) and rituals of the group, Kalpulli Huehuetlahtolli and interviews the individuals about the heart of it’s culture. Their testimonies reveals the complex history of colonized past and evolution.


The Spaniards conquered Anahuac and the culture metamorphosed. In New York, there is a group of Mexican Americans and Chicanos – indigenous people with roots in Mexico practicing Anahuac (Aztec) culture. The film follows their vibrant danza (dance) by the group, Kalpulli Huehuetlahtolli. Their desire to revive the original Aztec culture met with a comprehension of their ancestors’ survival absorbing Christianity. Capitan Anibal Becerril Alcantara states that ritual words attest to this evolution’s complexity. Capitana Guadalupe Becerril Alcantara unfolds her struggle of being misunderstood by her family members, wishes to pass on this humble love and respect to the younger generation and offers an advice to the world for an ecological betterment. Capitana Yaocihuatzin describes her heritage objects – Popochcomitl (burner) and performs a session spelling out prayers for her family, the group, mankind, earth and moon. The film also witnesses their arcane activities such as all female mother blessing event, sweat lodge ritual and informs the inner working narrated by Tlalcihuatzin Montse Olmos and Capitana Quetziquetl Jaramillo. Capitan Edward Jaramillo talks about how he encountered the culture, a birth of the group, and his political and social commitment to the Mexican population in the U.S.

Cast (in order of appearance)

Capitana Guadalupe Becerril Alcantara, Capitan Edward Jaramillo, Capitan Anibal Becerril Alcantara, Capitana Yaocihuatzin, Tlalcihuatzin Montse Olmos, Capitana Quetziquetl Jaramillo, Tlazohtiani Hilario Jaramillo

Yesica Meyolotzin Abrajan-Mani, Anuar Rosaldo, Xihuitl Texotli Aries, Cecilia Ortega, Isela Martinez, Karen Johana Lopez-Acero, Kylah Rane Fernandez, Capitan Andres Aguilar Sanchez (La Mesa Central Chichimeca Queretaro), Vero Itztli, Natalia Gianella Perez, Denise, Wendy Mejia, Yadira A Aleman, Francisco Ceyaotl Marin, Miguel Angel Tonalkoyotl Muñiz, Gustavo Cuauhcoatl Arias, Guadalupe Camacho Gonzalez, Jose Margarito Aguilar, Carlos Jimenez, Andrea Renee Donez, Brenda Flores, Jessica Bonilla, Mery Betsellie, Sol Aramendi, Tlazohtiani, Mazatl, Tezcalito Veronica’s Son, Sioux Greaux, Tomas Robles, Tomas Daughters, Javier Allende, Tecolo Xochitl, Gustavo Benedicto Angulo, Francisco Ceyaotl Marin & Tonalmina, Edgar Adrian Alcantara’s GF, Toxtlehuitl Mendez, Edgar Adrian Alcantara, Yuridia OllinCihuatl Martinez, Marcela Alatorre, Lily Rojas, Byron Tzoc Guarchaj, Natalia Uribe, Teresa Vivar, Ruben Chico, Miguel Angel Tonalkoyotl Muñiz’s wife, Chicomecoatl, Jose Margarito’s wife, Wife of Tomas Robles, Iliana Ramirez, Quetzalli Vera, Tlalteolli Del Palacio, Teresa’s daughter, Tezcatl Arias, Alfredo Martinez, Xihuitl Texotli Aries, Zindy Itzpapalotl Farcier, Veronica


Kalpulli Press Kit

About Kalpulli Huehuetlahtolli

Loosely translated from the ancient Nahuatl language, our name stands for a community of ancient speaking. More in depth: Kalpulli is a group of people collectively working together to preserve Mexica traditions, not only through Danza and the passing down of historical teachings, but also in the arts, theologies, philosophies, spiritually, ancient traditions, ceremonies, language, natural medicine and herbology, meditation and ancestral songs. Kalpulli is a place where people of every age group and background can retrain themselves on the principles of our ancestors. The Huehuetlatolli, is the “ancient word”. Kalpulli utilizes elders and traditional teachers to support our efforts to provide indigenous leadership and community outreach. Aztecs are Nahuatl speaking descendants of Ancient Mexico. Mexicas are a nation of Aztecs that were most dominant in the area.


Kalpulli Huehuetlahtolli BIO

On October 24, 2010, parents and members of the community who value Mexica culture, danza tradition and the Mexica-Indigenous way of life, founded our Kalpulli with a mission to preserve ancestral traditions of Mexico, as well as other indigenous ways of life.

The group is newly formed, but has done much to establish ourselves, not only in New York but with like minded groups and individuals throughout the United States and Mexico. As an organization we are committed to community outreach primarily in New York City and New Jersey. Currently, Kalpulli Huehuetlahtolli is diligently working towards securing our 501c3 non-profit status.

Tree Project (work in progress)

A Feature length Film by Hiroshi Sunairi
Work in Progress
Produced by Joel Kimbeck and Jill Godmilow



There are 20 kinds of Hibaku trees – trees that have somehow survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima: Gingko, Persimmon, Camphor, Camellia, Plane, Weeping Willow, Fern Palm, Hackberry, Elaeagnus, Kurogane Holly, Crape Myrtle, Eucalypt, Common Catalpa, Peony, Black Pine, Muku, Apricot, Citrus, Pyramid Juniper, Cherry Blossom, Tilia Miqueliana, and Chinese Parasol Tree. These trees hold up this film. Chikara Horiguchi is the tree doctor responsible for keeping all 170 Hibaku trees alive – both physically and spiritually. From a meeting between filmmaker Sunairi and Horiguchi, Tree Project came about – a system of disseminating Hibaku seeds to grow a crucial 2nd generation of survivor trees in country after country, around the world, so there will always be people who remember and understand – the meaning of Hiroshima.


One sunny day, through the chirping of cicadas, a boy is riding his bike in the city in Hiroshima. Three B-52s fly across the bright sky. He does not know then that within 10 seconds, the atom bomb would be dropped on his city. The sound of explosion reverberates. Everywhere it is dark. The screen is black. Text rolls: People are… animals are… houses are… all are floating in the air.  Flash! Pedestrians crossing the road – women, boys, even horses – turn into ashes and vapor. That day Hiroshima, a lively village, becomes into a living hell. “Nothing would ever grow there again… at least not for 75 years.”

But in 1946, one year later, a Chinese Parasol tree that looked very dead, sprouted leaves. This site gave the survivors hope and courage.

There are 170 trees that survived the atomic bombing in Hiroshima and almost all of them live to this day. They are called Hibaku (A-bombed) trees and stand like sentinels, holding up the film, like bones. We stand for a minute or two in front of a Hibaku – let’s say a 50 foot high Gingko – and contemplate its endurance, its will to live, its ability to generate seeds. The trees stand, even in intense industrial landscapes, among traffic, cables, and denser and denser building construction. Each tree carries a plaque that lists, among other data, its distance from the hypocenter… ground zero.

Among these trees, a portrait of Dr. Chikara Horiguchi develops. We follow his work as an arboriculturist – pruning, treating the trees, and telling the history of the trees… the location of their scars, deformation and their treatment. Importantly, we can learn from him the meaning of the Hibaku trees. As Horiguchi tells it, “They have the potential to send a message to the world about the resilience of nature through their survival.”

A two-minute long shot on a scarred, probably dying, Jujube tree.

In 2015, the filmmaker/artist, Hiroshi Sunairi, was commissioned to make an installation at a Hiroshima museum for the 66th anniversary of the atomic bomb. He wanted to fill a sculpture of a life-size elephant – a symbol of memory – with refuse from the bomb – toys, appliances, furniture, and clothes – but most of this debris had already been donated to the Peace Memorial Museum collection. Sunairi had met Horiguchi at a lecture on the Hibaku trees. This first meeting turned into collaboration. In Sunairi’s “A Night of Elephant”, the sculpture was filled with Hibaku tree prunings… a truck full. The dried leaves filled the gallery with an herbal scent. Though the sculpture recalled a sleeping elephant in the dark, the audience expressed the feeling that they had been energized being there with this giant.

A healthy camphor tree towers in an elementary school playground.

The Tree Project developed out of that first collaboration. Sunairi welcomes people from all over the world to receive a Hibaku seed, or seeds, supplied by Horiguchi – and to nurture them to maturity, and then, when the trees are mature, to plant them in their gardens or in public spaces. And he archives the documentations of the participants with their own Hibaku seed seedlings. Today there are over 100 second-generation Hibaku trees growing in the world.

The image of an enormous Weeping Willow; its survival plaque reads: “Having been A-bombed, this tree once collapsed, but new life sprouted from the remaining root. Out of all the Hibaku trees, this was closest to the hypocenter… 370 meters… about 328 yards.”

Director’s Statement:

Bernd and Hilla Becher, a German couple, using an 8 x 10 view camera, photographed industrial buildings and structures from a straightforward “objective” point of view, documenting industrial modernity of a certain era. I’m fascinated by these photographs, and in the same way, by the films of James Benning and Chantal Ackerman. These filmmakers are known for their use of long, held, stable takes, suggesting a fixed stare at landscapes loaded with historical, ecological and social dimensions. Speaking of her film From The Other Side, Chantal says she wants to burn her images into her audiences’ eyes and memory.


The Bones is inspired by the trees in time – history-ridden objects in landscapes. Thus, the film’s core structure, the Hibaku tree shots, are stable, objective, long takes, offering up the tree’s full body, its health, its location and the weather of that particular day. The film utilizes the smallest possible camera aperture to produce sharp focus in depth, as in the pure objective documentation of the Bechers’ works. The audience finds itself in front of these trees, sometimes in peaceful environmental sound, sometimes in abusive metropolitan noise, revealing each situation the trees withstand. Overall, the film consists of simple elements, but with precise and meaningful compositions.

“Having been A-bombed, this tree once collapsed, but new life sprouted from the remaining root.
Out of all the Hibaku trees, this was closest to the hypocenter… 370 meters… about 328 yards.”