From the YIDFF Office

2012-08-16 | About “Summer Festival with Eiga-ya and Their Friends”

On Sunday July 29th, we left for Minamisanriku-cho, Miyagi, one of the areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake (GEJE), at 5:30am to help out at an event called “Summer Festival with Eiga-ya (filmmakers) and Their Friends.” Although we got lost a little trying to get there, we were able to arrive around 8:00am. The ocean view from Hotel Kanyo, where the event was held, was something of a treat. The sea breeze was comforting and it made us forget the scorching heat of Japan for a short while.

“Eiga-ya and Their Friends” is a volunteer GEJE reconstruction support group organized by Tokyo-based filmmakers and their fellows: members consisted of film directors, actors, production crew and distributors and so on. Since May 2011, they have held screenings every two months at Iwate and Miyagi. This time, their 8th bimonthly event, is a special two-day “Summer Festival” that was held at Iwaizumi-cho, Iwate and Minamisanriku-cho, Miyagi. They cooperated with many volunteers from film festivals around Tohoku, such as Takasaki Film Festival, Sendai Short Film Festival, Jumonji Cinema Festival, Aomori Film Festival (Shichinohe FC and Tsugaru FC), and us, Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival.

This year’s summer festival adds special events like a flea market and a small-scale live music show with a number of great guest appearances to its usual screenings. With cafes, massage parlors, and shaved ice shops opened as well, the venue is energetic and full of life. There were booths for projects like handwritten letters gathered from children around the world, and flowers were also given out.

We the film festival team were in charge of the flea market (goods are distributed free of charge). The spacious venue quickly became full as we spread out the dozens of cardboard boxes worth of clothes, toys and other miscellaneous goods. A long line of local people stood outside from early morning waiting anxiously for the doors to open. The goods are all gone in less than thirty minutes! Afterwards, we went to the live music show, and enjoyed the summer festival with all of the people from Minamisanriku-cho.

One of the people who came to the flea market, an old lady living at an apartment she has rented ever since the earthquake told us, “Usually we don’t get these goods unless we live in provisional housing facilities run by the administration, so I was really looking forward to this!”

There are still many people who have been suffering from difficult living conditions. This event was initially set up to be a limited one-year activity, so this month was its final round. Organizers, however, promised to try to continue their activities individually. There were many great encounters with other film festival fellows and filmmakers. We hope to participate in the future as well, valuing this wonderful friendship that cinema brought to us.

* You can read other reports on this event here (in Japanese only):

Suzuki Ayako (YIDFF Yamagata Office)