From the YIDFF Office

2014-01-24 | New Year’s Greetings from YIDFF Office

The new year has come and we wish you a wonderful 2014. It’s a fresh start for us, relaxed, after those chaotic film festival days.

Our next festival edition YIDFF 2015 will take place in October 2015 and preparations are already underway. We’ll announce its schedule and open calls for films entry when they are fixed.

In addition to preparing for the next festival, YIDFF office will proceed on to various tasks and challenges this year:

Firstly, we are publishing the YIDFF 2013 Festival Report soon. Full of guest interviews and delightful photos by our volunteer Daily Bulletin team, this booklet will document the actual atmosphere of the 2013 festival, heated and live, as in previous editions.

Secondly this year, we’ll continue our series of film workshops for children. Youngsters will share valuable experiences of making, showing, watching, and talking about cinema.

Thirdly, we are launching an archive aiming to preserve documentary films on the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake (March 11, 2011) and cataloging related materials and information. It will surely contribute to a wide range of academic research, from quake studies to media analysis.

And finally, our Tokyo office is planning a touring program in Tokyo—the biennial Documentary Dream Show / Yamagata in Tokyo 2014, possibly in early fall. A big part of YIDFF 2013’s not-to-be-missed lineup will be shown in Tokyo, along with some films from the 2013 special programs. Don’t miss it!

We kindly ask for your continued hearty support for our activities.

Kusakabe Katsuyoshi (YIDFF Yamagata Office)


2014-03-19 | Noticiero #0—Following “Islands / I Lands, NOW—Vista de Cuba”

I arrived in Habana in December last year, just as the Festival Internacional del Nuevo Cine Latinoamericano was happening. This is the final destination of my one-year research tour in Latin American countries, which started in the end of March 2013. Before Habana, I was in Argentina and Mexico, studying documentary filmmaking and distribution in those countries. This will be a brief report on the current Cuban film situation.

This was my first time to revisit Habana since 2012, when I had screened Japanese documentaries at the film festival Muestra Joven (Its main competition program is for films made by filmmakers under 35). I found that self-owned shops like restaurants, cafes, and pirate DVD shops have increased in the city, and people were dressing in louder colors, possibly encouraged by state policy allowing private businesses. Meanwhile, disparities in people’s income seem to be expanding.

This was the second time for me to join Festival Internacional del Nuevo Cine Latinoamericano. The basic style of this festival’s organization was not much different from that of my previous visit four years ago, but I felt the organizers’ pride in greeting their 35th anniversary everywhere in festival venues. The number of films and screenings are enormous, while as always, the screening schedule is not announced until the day before. I like this easy-going way. The main programs are five: feature fiction, short fiction, debuts, documentary and animation, but there are 32 films in the documentary section alone! The Latin American section has just as many categories; there are also special national programs such as German and South Korean; collaborative programs with other festivals and retrospectives. All together, over 600 works are presented. I was especially impressed with a Peruvian documentary, which was screened on 35mm!

In the Industry program, there were lectures by filmmakers and reports on current filmmaking trends in other Latin American countries, including the state of production and law. This information was particularly important for Cuban filmmakers. I hear that currently there is a controversy over the restructuring of ICAIC (Instituto Cubano del Arte e Industria Cinematograficos). It seems that a series of discussions between ICAIC officials and independent filmmakers has been held every month since May 2013. Three months ago, Mr. Roberto Smith took over as head of ICAIC, from his predecessor who had been in the post for over 10 years. Master filmmaker Fernando Pérez, Yamagata juror in 2011, resigned from ICAIC last year and became an independent filmmaker. He’s now working on the post-production of his first “independent” film. In Cuba, everything regarding filmmaking is designated under ICAIC, so film production and distribution are entirely controlled. Independent filmmakers who produce outside the ICAIC system fall into an ambiguous status between legal and illegal. According to Mr. Perez, current discussions are chiefly about the improvement of this unstable situation of independent filmmakers, and include the possibility of creating a law extending ICAIC support to them. More fundamentally, the bureaucratic nature of ICAIC administration is under debate. A group of these active independent filmmakers is named G20 (G Veinte), after G8 or G20, world’s major economies—that’s typical Cuban humor. This Cuban version of G20 is truly interesting, since its members are from every generation and have no patrons or supportive institutions. Such meetings were easily regarded as an “anti-authority activity” and were quite difficult in Cuba before. But the filmmakers who join this G20 are simply expressing their opinions and earnest hopes about the future of Cuban and their own filmmaking, and not gathering in opposition to ICAIC. I found such a movement very significant to this country.

Meanwhile, I also heard that the new Minister of Culture is not very positive about change. In any case, eyes should be glued to this current time of transformation in Cuba. In fact, the number of films made in Cuba is steadily rising. Over 170 works (including shorts and features) have been submitted to this year’s Muestra Joven upcoming in April. I’m looking forward to encounter fresh feature documentaries there.

(To be continued)

Hama Haruka (YIDFF Tokyo Office, currently staying in Mexico)