From the YIDFF Office

2013-01-19 | 2013 New Year’s Greetings from YIDFF

The new year 2013 has come and we wish you a fantastic 2013. This is the year of the biennial YIDFF, of which preparations are now fully in progress.

By mid-summer, the “core” of the Festival will be unveiled and this year’s YIDFF will show its face.

The Great East Japan Earthquake Recovery Support screening project “Cinema with Us” will continue on this year. We kindly ask for your continued fervent support for our festival and activities, which will allow us to make leaps forward!

Takahashi Takuya (Yamagata Office Director)


2013-01-19 | Promoting YIDFF Internationally (at Visible Evidence XIX)

In 2011, the number of total admissions broke the Festival’s second best record of all times. But the number of international visitors from abroad clearly dropped. It was probably due to concerns about the Fukushima nuclear power disaster.

So what about this year’s festival? Just showing films from abroad won’t justify the “international” in our name. And as a biennial festival, we are fated to slip from people’s memories.

So last fall, an unprecedented number of festival staff and board members took part in various documentary events in Europe and Asia and succeeded in spreading the Yamagata name about. I myself was invited to the documentary conference Visible Evidence, taking place for the 19th time in Canberra, Australia. I was overjoyed to hear Michael Renov, one of the founders of the event, speak fondly about his experience at the 1991 Yamagata festival: “Spending time with Kieslowski, Trinh Minh-ha, Edward Yang, and such people, it was such a special occasion. I’d love to go back again.”

The academic conference Visible Evidence was co-hosted by the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia, where an extensive screening program was made available to conference participants and the public alike. The 250-seat cinema was housed in a 1930 beautiful Art Deco building, originally built as the Institute of Anatomy. The projection for all films was obviously impeccable.

Visible Evidence showed, from YIDFF 2011’s Cinema with Us program featuring documentaries about the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, Fukushima: Memories of the Lost Landscape (dir: Matsubayashi Yojyu) and The Sound of the Waves (dirs: Hamaguchi Ryusuke, Sakai Ko). Before the screenings, I spoke shortly about Yamagata’s ongoing efforts to screen films about the aftermath of the disasters, and that it is culminating into a huge collection comprising a genre for prospective history scholars, and that the filming and screening reinforce the importance of remembering.

After the screenings, some people approached me.

“After WWII, I was assigned to a POW camp for Japanese soldiers in Singapore. The film made me realize how the Japanese who had lost everything then, was able to recover to economic success. It must have been because they had treasured the image of their hometown in their hearts,” said an elderly man. “The film reminded me of the pure and youthful spirit of making films freely. If these are the kind of films Yamagata shows, I'd love to go some day,” an experienced filmmaker told me heatedly.

I have to say, there’s a lot of good Facebook and webzines can do for promotion, but nothing can beat face-to-face encounters. With luck, could the personal connections we form around the world bring us box office gold rush in October? Maybe you should book your hotel early this year!

Fujioka Asako (Tokyo Office Director)