This Year’s Festival

The year 2005 marks sixty years since the end of World War II, but in that period wars have continued all across the globe, and as we entered the 21st century the situation has only become more and more confused. The International Competition’s Route 181—Fragments of a Journey in Palestine-Israel sheds light on the ongoing Palestinian issue through the journey of its two directors—one Palestinian, one Israeli, who follow the border created by the 1947 United Nations resolution partitioning Palestine. Films such as Final Solution, pursuing religious conflict in India, or The People of Angkor, in which the director confronts his homeland Cambodia, also go beyond their respective domestic issues. As for films that cover the war in Iraq, in addition to the Australian film In the Shadow of the Palms—Iraq, the Japanese film Little Birds will be screened as part of the New Docs Japan program.

Chinese documentary, which captured the Robert and Frances Flaherty Prize (Grand Prize) last time with a film that lasted over nine hours, makes a strong presence this year as well. Before the Flood will screen in the International Competition, five other films are included in the New Asian Currents program, and perhaps the secret of Chinese documentary will be revealed in one of this year’s special programs, the Yunnan Visual Forum in Yamagata.

The presence of resident South and North Koreans in Japan’s history extends past World War II to the time of Japan’s annexation of Korea. Another of this year’s special programs, BORDERS WITHIN—What It Means to Live in Japan, takes a glimpse at the various forms in which resident Koreans left their marks on Japanese cinema during the past century. And, while retracing the films of ethnic filmmakers, we also look at the relationship between the Japanese and other Asians, thus questioning the status quo in Japan. Homeless Angel, discovered in China this year, and the films from North Korea are not to be missed by film fans.

A special screening will take place of the films about the victims of Taiwan’s catastrophic earthquake produced by the filmmaking group FullShot. We will also examine personal documentaries, currently thriving in Japan, in comparison with personal films from Switzerland. New Docs Japan, our special program for Japanese documentaries, also contains many films that deeply reflect the past sixty years.
It is a particularly great joy and pleasure to be able to screen the fiction documentary Música Cubana, in which the director German Kral, whose Images of the Absence won the Grand Prize in the 1999 Competition, illustrates the musicians of Cuba.

This year we would like to share the film festival once again with the filmmakers and the audience, watching films that ring true as we search the past and observe reality around the globe.

—Yano Kazuyuki