From my earliest feature films, I have been fascinated by characters who have documented their lives. While the intention of these documentations has varied from seemingly casual recordings to more sinister attempts to distort history, there is a sense that many of my films incorporate and examine the documentary form. When I began to make films 30 years ago, home video was starting to allow for the effortless and democratic production and exchange of moving images. Now, the technology is pervasive to the degree that it is assumed we document every moment of our lives, and share these documents in a widely accessible way with a global community.
Our understanding of this current framework, and the many directions it’s taking us, becomes ever more pertinent. What is the nature of editorial choice? What boundaries are left to explore in a world where everyone is documenting everything? There are so many questions about the future of the documentary form, and I have no doubt that this year’s edition of the YIDFF will provoke all sorts of discussions. In the end, I am not as concerned about the classical definitions of documentary and fiction, as I am obsessed with the power of cinema to challenge perceptions of reality.
At this crucial moment, it is exciting to be on a jury of one of the most prestigious documentary festivals in the world. I have been coming to Japan for over 20 years, and it is an honor to visit this great nation once again.
With 14 feature films and related projects, Atom Egoyan has won numerous awards including the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival, two Academy Award nominations, and eight Genie Awards. In 2010, he had a full retrospective of his films at the Filmoteca Española in Madrid, following similar events in previous years at the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Museum of the Moving Image in New York.
Egoyan has presided over juries at Cannes, Berlin, and Venice, and served as a jury member at several other festivals.
Egoyan’s art projects have been presented around the world, including at the Venice Biennale and Artangel in London. His Steenbeckett installation has recently become part of the Artangel Collection, an innovative alliance with the Tate that will tour museums and galleries across the U.K.
Egoyan’s acclaimed production of Wagner’s Die Walküre won a Dora Award for Outstanding Opera Production, and his adaptation of Samuel Beckett’s Eh Joe was presented by The Gate Theatre in Dublin before transferring to London’s West End and the Lincoln Center Festival in New York. Egoyan will direct the North American premiere of Martin Crimp’s Cruel and Tender, which will star Arsinée Khanjian, for the Canadian Stage theater company in early 2012, before staging a remount of his critically acclaimed production of Strauss’s Salome, previously presented at the Canadian Opera Company and the Houston Grand Opera.
CANADA / 2004–6 / English, French, Arabic / Color / Blu-ray (SD) / 93 min
Director, Photography: Atom Egoyan
Production Company, Source: Ego Film Arts
Actress Arsinée Khanjian is visiting her childhood home of Beirut for the first time in 28 years. Her husband, Atom Egoyan, films this family trip with a small handheld camera, providing a voice-over commentary in the form of a video letter addressed to their ten-year-old son. As he discusses the history and culture of Lebanon, he reflects upon the interdependent “viewer/object” relationship between himself as the one with the camera and his wife the actress. And we find that the image is just as likely to be maneuvered as incidental . . .