From the YIDFF Office

2013-02-18 | Ripples of Knowledge
at the Yamagata University Library Screening Series

Like an illusion, perspective can change in an instant, bringing shock and discovery as new images emerge. Hoping to evoke this feeling in a theater setting, we founded the Yamagata University Library Screening Series. Yamagata University professors select films related to their fields of study from our festival archive, and hold screenings emphasizing their perspectives on each work. Documentaries offer occasional glimpses into the diversity of filmic expression. Any number of interpretations and perceptions may lie in the space between film and spectator. In other words, reaction to a film is the domain of its audience.

Film festivals provide a space in which the message a filmmaker communicates and the message their audience receives may be mutually exchanged. At the Yamagata University Library Screening Series we believe in the breadth of interpretation possible in documentary, and in the power of images to encompass meaning. By offering a space where film may be viewed from perspectives other than Film Studies, we aim to give audiences the chance to experience instants in which new perspectives, of which they previously had not been aware, open.

The program began in 2010, and to date we have held 8 series and 19 screenings and commentary sessions from in the fields of Anthropology, Russian Literature, Surrealism Studies, French Literature, History, Political Science, Sociology, and Film Studies. At our screening of The Three Rooms of Melancholia (YIDFF 2005) titled “History, Memory and Tradition—The Case of Russia,” expert on Russian culture Professor Nakamura Tadashi argued that one could read traditional relationships and ethnic roots into the behavior of the children who appear in the film. He argued that the filmmaker had intentionally reflected this heritage in the structure of the film as well. In our program “A Stroll through the History and Streets of Czechoslovakia through Documentary Film” in which we screened Memories and Dreams (YIDFF ’95), specialist in Eastern European politics Professor Takahashi Kazu posited that a nursery song inserted nonchalantly into the film in actuality represents the spirit of the Czech people, and does so directly. The song is tightly woven into the film’s subject matter, she told. In the lecture, there was even a scene that Prof. Takahashi herself sung the plaintive melody.

Knowledge from a specialized perspective expands upon the experience of simply seeing a film to inspire broader interest in the people and things depicted onscreen, and the situations their countries face. We hope this series of screenings will deepen our viewers’ desire to learn more, one of the joys of watching film. We look forward to continuing creating ripples of knowledge with you at the Yamagata University Library.

Kusakabe Katsuyoshi (Yamagata Office)