Films screened in the International Competition are chosen through a series of meetings by a Pre-selection Committee, acting under the authority of the Organizing Committee. Eleven people comprised this year’s Pre-selection Committe: five staff members from the YIDFF offices in Yamagata and Tokyo, two film critics, two members of the YIDFF Organizing Committee, and two citizens chosen from the general public.
Submissions for this year’s International Competition were accepted from September 1, 2002 through March 31, 2003, and the Pre-selection Committee began their work from December. Because roughly half of the 902 submissions were received close to the deadline, committee members literally spent every day from the end of March and into April and May focused intently on watching films. The submissions are each extremely unique, and selection was based largely on how this uniqueness resonated with individual committee members.
Many submissions sparked heated debate. In reality the intensity of this discussion, rather than unanimous support, made selection inevitable for many of the works. The fifteen documentaries are all strongly endorsed by the Pre-selection Committee and represent a wide range of topics and film styles, perhaps a reflection more of the diversity of documentaries today rather than any kind of deliberate intent. The films will be screened during the festival, and the Robert and Frances Flaherty Prize and other awards will be conferred by the festival jury.