Yamagata and Film

Remembering Our Friend Mr. Docu-Yama

Yamagata and Film is a program that reflects the landscape and culture of Yamagata through films that have connections with the prefecture. This year’s program has been organized as a tribute to an individual: Takahashi Takuya, who died suddenly last fall. Takahashi was deeply involved in the founding of the film festival, served as Yamagata Office Director for over ten years, organized independent film screenings in many places, and produced films set in the prefecture. He is truly worthy of the name “Mr. Docu-Yama.” As we mourn his early passing, we would like to look back through film on the achievements of this man who loved Yamagata, its mountains, and its film festival. The program will include screenings of Warabinokou: To the Bracken Fields, a fiction film made and exhibited with his support, and A Voiceless Cry, a documentary that he was involved in producing. The miraculously unearthed Snow Poem (Yuki no shi), shot entirely on location at Hijiori Onsen, will also be screened for the first time in nearly half a century. It is easy to imagine how Takahashi would have reacted to this film if he were still alive to see it. It surely would have delighted him. In Yamagata, there is an ancient belief that the spirits of the dead return to the mountains. There are mountain destinations throughout the prefecture to which spirits journey, from Dewa Sanzan and Mount Chokai to Risshakuji, familiarly known as the “Mountain Temple.” For people from Yamagata, mountains are places for mourning the dead. In this sense, seeing the yama, or “mountains,” of Yama-gata projected on the screen might be an occasion to mourn this man we can no longer meet in person.

Kuroki Aruji
Writer, Program Coordinator