Trends and Characteristics in the International Competition
Entries for this year’s International Competition were accepted between September 1, 2002 and March 31 of this year, accruing a record total of 902 submissions (compared to 670 for YIDFF 2001). The selection process spanned over several months, and ultimately the field was narrowed to fifteen (seven film works, eight video works) for exhibition.
78% (around 700) of entries received were video works. Considering that the percentage of video submissions to YIDFF 2001 was 70%, overall it appears that the ratio of documentaries made on video is continuing to increase. Of the fifteen works selected, video works account for over half. Competitions at the YIDFF are judged without differentiating between film and video.
Taking the sheer volume of entries into account, it is nearly impossible to succinctly express overall characteristics considering the diverse and multifaceted themes on show. However, there were inevitably many works with themes connected to the domestic and international wars being waged today, and the tragedies they bring about. Several entries were received that looked at the events of September 11, the attack on Afghanistan, and the war in Iraq. None of these feature in the International Competition, but there is still the possibility that some may be screened as part of other programs during the festival. Works that approach issues from a multitude of perspectives can be seen to be fulfilling one of documentary’s main functions: to bring to our attention is often neglected by television, newspapers and other mass media outlets.
The arrival of video gave birth to the trend of an increase in documentaries addressing themes close to the filmmaker from a personal perspective. Until now, there have been plenty of these so-called individual films that are confined to exclusive worlds, but this time around there were many submissions that also took a broader view of issues such as social change while filming subjects such as the filmmaker themself, their families and friends, and several works in this vein have been selected for competition.
Many new documentaries from directors whose work has been featured before at YIDFF were also received. Having the chance to screen and appreciate the latest efforts from familiar filmmakers is one of the most enjoyable elements of this festival. Of the fifteen works chosen for the International Competition, six are from directors whose past works have screened in either the International Competition or New Asian Currents. There are still few opportunities for theatrical exhibition for documentaries. The continuity and longevity of the YIDFF creates a rare opportunity to be able to keep track of the process of growth and development of style of certain filmmakers.
As the world changes from moment to moment, documentary film also continues to transform on a daily basis. These fifteen works, rich in variety, reveal the diversity of documentary. We eagerly await your frank opinions and widespread participation.
—Saito Hisao, Coordinator of Yamagata Office
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