The International Competition screens the latest documentary films from around the world. Forming one of the pillars of our film festival, this program will show fifteen films drawn from 950 entries submitted between September 2004 and April of this year, the majority of which are being shown for the first time in Japan. These films will be screened twice during the festival, and the jury will decide five awards, including the Robert and Frances Flaherty Prize (The Grand Prize).
Like most other international film festivals, rather than using a director system in which one programmer selects all the films to be shown, the films for this program are selected by a Pre-selection Committee consisting of a number of people including local citizens. This system has been in use since the festival’s inauguration in 1989, and quickly became an established feature of YIDFF.
A total of thirteen members took part in the selection process—three citizens chosen from the general public, two members of the Organizing Committee, five YIDFF Office staff members, two film critics and one filmmaker. During this period the members of the Pre-selection Committee became deeply involved in the films and they worked intently night and day, sacrificing even holidays. After holding several meetings and exchanging opinions by fax and e-mail, the committee selected those films that generated debate or that captured the hearts of committee members rather than simply relying on a majority vote.
For the International Competition, the festival buys print or video material and screens them with Japanese and English subtitles. After the festival a contract for noncommercial screenings is made with the screening rights holder in order to create a wider documentary film environment and provide more opportunity for audiences in Japan to see these films.
These fifteen films are a distillation of what is happening in every corner of the documentary film world, and we hope this international window will reveal new aspects of documentary films. We’d be very happy if more people could feel the currents blowing through this window.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the many filmmakers who applied, and all of the people who have helped to make this program possible.