news has bombarded us during the preparation of this festival - the
devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Taiwan, terrifying bloodshed
in East Timor and Jakarta, an unbelievable accident in a Japanese
nuclear plant, and the eminent Y2K threat looming ahead... It is not
easy to believe in an unconditional rosy future for the people of
Asia even as the region's economic crisis eases off towards the beginning
of the new century.
Meanwhile, we know that in Taiwan, the documentary group Full Shot
has started up a long-term project to record the damage and recovery
of the earthquake victims. In Indonesia, video activists are in the
streets, at the forefront of political rallies, risking their lives.
In China, an increasing number of documentarists around the country
are filming the real stories of people in a country undergoing transformation,
caught between government policy and market demands. With courage
and commitment, filmmakers around Asia are taking up the challenge
to express the realities of their own people.
History tells us that in turbulent times, exceptional documentaries
have been produced. Does ten years of YIDFF's presentation of Asian
films lay testimony to that fact? Only the future can tell.
New Asian Currents has expanded in size and scale over the
years. It was an inevitable choice - compared to a mere five years ago,
documentaries made by Asian filmmakers have been bursting in number.
The originality of the emerging works as a means of creative expression
is astonishing, and it is thrilling to see how the documentaries are
being used-not only as educational tools or TV fare, but as independent
films to be shown in theaters or salons. There have also been more
new works brought to our attention from regions not represented in
the past, like the Middle East.
It is a fact that all over Asia, documentary is gaining momentum.
It could be that we are approaching a golden era of Asian documentary!
At the same time, creative documentary production is accompanied not
only by the energy and initiative of individual filmmakers, but also
by networking and social support systems - distribution networks, income-creating
markets, and most importantly, places to showcase the jewels.
In the two special programs hosted by New Asian Currents this year,
we hope to pay tribute to the groundbreaking work of documentary groups
in Japan, Korea, and Taiwan that has laid foundations for the rise
of individual talent.
It is with much gratitude to VIDEO ACT!, Full Shot Communication
Foundation, and Cinema Juku, together with filmmakers Wu Yii-feng
and Hara Kazuo that we present the two discussion programs, Filming-Screening-Changing
/ Video Activism in Japan and Korea, and Case Study: Full Shot (Taiwan)
and Cinema Juku (Japan), Spreading the Filmmaking Movement. Thanks
to their generous contributions and dedicated work, two in-depth programs
of screenings and discussions will take place at the Yamagata Citizens'
Hall during the Festival. Don't miss the fun!
New Asian Currents Coordinator