From the YIDFF Office

2012-10-12 | “Miyukino Snow Theater International Short Film Festival” in Yamagata!

“Miyukino Snow Theater International Short Film Festival” is a film festival held each year in February that screens many short films from North Europe and Japan, and organizes many workshops offering chances to experience North European and Japanese culture in a handmade snow theater at the Madarao Highlands ski resort. The festival is organized by Snow Collective, led by Ms. Hashimoto Haruko. Snow Collective is a group that advocates fun snow activities, focusing on their key phrase “I’m glad there is snow!” Most of the staff are volunteers, holding other jobs during the rest of the year, and live all throughout Japan from Hokkaido to Okinawa, and in areas throughout Northern Europe from Finland to Iceland.

Miyukino Film Festival is planning to organize free screenings and workshops for the areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami of 2011. Therefore, in 2012, they are organizing many charity film festivals all around Japan to gather funding. As a mother herself, Ms. Hashimoto hopes that “by familiarizing the children of the evacuated areas with Scandinavian culture, they will gain an interest in worlds they are not familiar with, see the infinite potential of the future, and if possible, induce something worth living for, however small that something may be.” The staff supporting her in each location went to local cafes, galleries and event spaces looking for locations that would offer their space, and helped organized these charity film festivals.

Two of these events were held in Yamagata this June. “Miyukino Film Festival in Friday Theater” was held on Friday, June 22nd at Yamagata Documentary Film Library. Special North European film screenings were held in collaboration between YIDFF and Miyukino Film Festival. Also, on June 24th, the event “Watch and Create: Day enjoying Scandinavian Culture” at Yamagata Manabikan was held. Cosponsored by Manabikan, YIDFF became the backing to make this event come to life. With four programs of North European: short film screenings, ornament making workshops, a picture book library, and assorted shops, the event was a great success, bringing people closer to North European films and culture.

I happened to have worked as a volunteer at the previous Miyukino Film Festival and the encounter led us to hold these events in Yamagata. But in fact, Ms. Hashimoto has already had ties with Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival. In February of 2009, after the first annual Miyukino Film Festival came to a close, Ms. Hashimoto had lost some of her motivation to keep working on film festivals in the future due to the painstaking efforts of organizing one. But by visiting Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival, she met highly-motivated people and received strong encouragement from them. Her greeting to the audience before the library screening, “the only reason why I have been able to put together Miyukino Film Festival up to now is because of YIDFF. There is no way to thank you enough. It is like a dream that our idol film festival, YIDFF has helped us out to put together this screening for Miyukino Film Festival,” was especially memorable.

Tanaka Kayako
(Graduate Student of Science of Art Studies, Tohoku University of Arts & Design / Snow Collective Yamagata Staff)