Festival Outline

This year marks the first time that video works will screen in the International Competition. While the economic constraints of film have forced filmmakers in Asia and other areas to work in video for some years now, the past few years have seen an international exploration of new methods of making documentaries that employ video’s specific characteristics. The focus of our special program this year, Robert Kramer, also dared to work on video in the latter part of his career. About 70% of the submissions this year were video works, and consequently 40% of the works screened will be video. Celluloid works shot on video are also increasingly common. The number of Asian works in competition has increased, and this year’s program is also rich in technical variety.

Once again, there’s plenty of life in this year’s New Asian Currents program, which demonstrates a wide variety of thematic and technical experiments from young Asian filmmakers. This is especially true of the Korean women filmmakers, Chinese filmmakers who work on digital video and spirited Taiwanese filmmakers whose works we are screening. Filmmakers from India and other South Asian countries are tackling themes that have never before been addressed in the region, and Palestinian and Turkish filmmakers who screened works at YIDFF in 1999 are back with works with even more appeal.

The Kamei Fumio Retrospective presents a complete view of this documentarist who played a leading role in pre- and postwar Japanese documentary film and greatly influenced filmmakers working today. In addition to a selection of his documentary masterpieces, the inclusion of PR movies and other works shows Kamei’s multifaceted talent. His final work, a free and wild treatment of a tragic theme entitled Lullabies of Birds, Insects and Fish was completed just before the director’s death.

Director Robert Kramer, who attended YIDFF for the second time in 1997, died suddenly two years later just before completing Cities of the Plain. As one of the directors we most wanted to delve deeply into the confusion of today, his loss is deeply felt. In order to look into the future rather than simply recollect, we will also hold the Yamagata edition of Doc’s Kingdom, a seminar on documentary film begun in Portugal.

Directors Teshigahara Hiroshi and Johan van der Keuken also passed away this year. Meanwhile, a film Ogawa Shinsuke left unfinished has been completed by a Chinese director, and two-time Yamagata participant US director Barbara Hammer has explored the true nature of the Ogawa Production team, mainly using interviews with the remaining members of the production unit. These two works show that continuation and reconsideration are alive from a variety of viewpoints.

Now, how about this year’s festival?

—Yano Kazuyuki, Director of the Tokyo Office