2001-06-30 | International Competition: Characteristics and trends

Entries were accepted for this year’s International Competition from the first of September 2000 to March 31st this year, and due to the inclusion of documentaries shot on video we received a total of 670 applications, far surpassing the number submitted to our last festival. Consequently the selection process stretched over many months, and at the final selection meeting on June 9th, 15 documentaries (9 on film, 6 on video) were chosen for this category.

For titles and brief outlines of the films selected for the International Competition, please go here.

Now I’d like to introduce the overall characteristics of this year’s entries, as well as some common elements running through the selected works.

70% of the films eligible for this category were made on video. This is simply due to the fact that the number of filmmakers working with video has increased, but of that figure (apart from the submissions of young directors) we can observe that many people who have up until now worked with film are switching from movie camera to video camera, and are beginning to make more films using this medium.

The links between filmmakers and Yamagata continue to deepen. There are increasing incidences of directors who have visited Yamagata as jurors returning to enter their own works, as well as those stalwart supporters of our festival who continue to submit their work every two years.

Four films from directors whose earlier works have been screened in programs outside the International Competition feature in this year’s line-up. Including the French-produced work of a Cambodian director, Asian films account for a third of the final selection (5 films out of 15).

Regarding themes and content, one trend that has endured since the mid ’90s is the use of the filmmaker’s own parents and family as subject matter, and there have been many of this kind of entry once again. This brand of film is built on recollections of personal experiences and historical happenings, and is growing into an eminent style of documentary in its own right.

Also, works that adopt a fresh approach and refuse to be tied down by the notion of “Documentary Film” have also greatly increased in number.

In addition, this year there have been many films employing “found footage” (unused images that are rediscovered and put to new use) in abundance.

The 15 films of the international competition, lacing excitement with sensitivity and brimming with variety, offer a unique opportunity to view new documentaries from around the world. Please take this opportunity to join with the filmmakers in experiencing the power of these works on our festival screens.

(MIYAZAWA Hiraku, coordinator of Yamagata Office)