Yamagata and Film
In Cooperation with Yamagata University Institute of Visual Culture
The Face of Yamagata Is Turned Towards the Silver Screen
This program, that explores the past, present, and future of Yamagata Prefecture based on its relationship with film is being held for the fifth time, and also celebrating its tenth anniversary. In the beginning, it was natural to base the program on ideas such as unearthing films that had been stored away in Yamagata, or putting the spotlight on the works of directors and actors from Yamagata. Now, as the event has matured, such restrictive themes have faded away and been replaced with a looser, more diverse collection of approaches. I myself am in favor of this shift, because I think it represents an outcome of the method of filmic expression as well as being proof of the scope of the festival. So, let’s quickly introduce the program that incorporates much of what is appealing about Yamagata.
When considering the relationship between a community and film, the “place” that is the movie theatre cannot be ignored. “Yamagata Silver Screen Revival! Strange Tales from Yamagata’s Movie Theaters” is a special feature that selects movie theaters that used to exist in the prefecture and reconsiders their meaning. This time, we look at Green House that used to be in Sakata City, and Tokiwa Theater in Kaminoyama City, where Oshii Mamoru filmed The Red Spectacles. Green House was renowned for its glamour and luxury to the point of being called the world’s “top” theater, but its name became taboo after it sparked the Great Fire of Sakata. With the years that have passed since its demise, I would like to ask about the cultural meaning it brought to the region. And, why did a leading animation director choose such an old local movie theater as his location? And, I want to know what influence The Red Spectacles had on Oshii’s later works. Instead of indulging in nostalgia, it seems that this will be an opportunity to look clearly at the roots of the region.
In the “Ten Trips Around the Sun: Sato Makoto’s Documentary Horizon Today” screenings and discussions, we will be able to think again about the meaning and significance of documentary through the gaze and films of Sato Makoto, who has had a deep connection with this film festival. In addition, a talk looking back at screening of rushes from Living on the River Agano, still in editing, at the 1991 festival will explore why it continues to live on in memory as a legendary night.
Lastly, “The Future of Yamagata and Film” will celebrate its tenth year with screenings of works by students from the Tohoku University of Art and Design. I want you to see how young talent residing here capture Yamagata. With “On the Road to a Creative City of Film,” we will introduce films about traditional crafts that survive in the prefecture. I hope that visitors will get to know some charms of Yamagata in addition to the film festival. On top of screenings and various talks and discussions in “Yamagata and Film,” this year we have also scheduled a filmmaking workshop developed for the citizens of Yamagata. Please find the details in this program.
So many films and events united under the hazy keyword of “Yamagata” may seem unrelated at first glance. However, I believe that if you have a look at the outline of our prefecture on a map, you will see the sillouhette of a face—turned towards the silver screen.