Yamagata Rough Cut!

This program provides an opportunity for people who have come to the festival from around the world to watch, listen to, feel and discuss a range of unfinished films. By watching these little, coarsely carved out fragments of the world—these “rough cuts”—filmmakers, audiences, critics, researchers and people from every walk of life can go beyond the conventions of genre and come together to explore new relationships between the moving image and society.

Questioning What It Means to “See” Today

A “rough cut” refers to an unfinished version of a film or moving image work that has undergone preliminary editing before its final completion. At Yamagata Rough Cut! the idea of a film as a completed work is temporarily put aside, and together with our diverse festival audience, we search for the possibilities of having a dialogue with the moving images themselves—the footage—that eschews status, genre, and borders.

This year, due to the worldwide effects of the COVID-19 pandemic YIDFF 2021 will be held online. Yamagata Rough Cut! which began in 2011, is now in its 10th year and has, over this span of time, highlighted not only the importance of seeing but even more so the act of speaking. The film projected on the screen in front of us is accepted as its own reality and the feelings, thoughts, and contemplations that it inspires slowly form into words. This is because we believe that after listening to what others have to say we can expand on our own thoughts, though not words yet, effectively turning the solitary experience of watching a film into an opportunity for us to open our minds ever so slightly to thoughts and opinions from the outside.

However, this experience was largely dependent upon the fact that we had come together in the same present, in the shared time and space of the venue. We realize that for filmmakers, it can be risky to show an unfinished film project via an online platform and there is a momentous difficulty in building up a meaningful discussion about the film over virtual space and time. Nonetheless, this edition of Yamagata Rough Cut! will be held online with discussions carried out in a closed space and with a limited audience.

We had to give up many things due to the COVID-19 pandemic and one of them was the ability to hold a film festival in person, in the usual way. We are certain that many people have reservations about our choice to hold this year’s festival online. However, it is precisely because of these dire circumstances that we are presented with an opportunity to question the relationship between the moving image, including cinema, and the world like never before.

What sort of experience can we create based on the creative imaginations of each and every person who joins the festival? This is perhaps the question facing the entirety of YIDFF.

As in the past, each segment will screen twice: once before and once after discussion takes place. We believe that through these discussions, the footage can be seen anew and offer a different cinematic experience, actively questioning how we see it.

Two projects from Japan and two from other countries in Asia will be screened, and discussions will be held with simultaneous interpretation. Please join us for these discussions, which are sure to be a productive and lively exchange.

Sakai Ko, Watanabe Kazutaka
Program Coordinators