A program that began with the very first YIDFF. Feature-length works were sought from around the world, and from the 1,141 entries emerges a stringent selection of 15 cinematic gems, richly varied and representing the vanguard of world filmmaking.
Venues: Yamagata Central Public Hall 6F, Yamagata Citizens’ Hall (Large Hall), Solaris 1
Nine Israeli immigrant poets, singers, actors, etc speak of their relationship to language, wavering between Hebrew and that of their childhood in From Language to Language, directed by Nurith Aviv, the first female director of photography in France. Garin Nugroho’s A Poet takes the form of didong, a traditional sung poetic duel renowned in Aceh, to reveal Suharto’s 1965 massacre on its people. Mythical maverick filmmaker Karel Vachek was banned in Czechoslavakia in the 60s, but returned in post-1989 with a biting social critique in films like Who Will Watch the Watchman?: a storm of conversations interlaced by singing of a Smetana opera. Chinese forerunner documentarist Wu Wenguang, who won the first Ogawa Shinsuke Prize in 1993, returns with Fuck Cinema, a record of young people aspiring to enter the film industry today. Poet Yoshimasu Gozo presents shorts from his gozoCiné series, of which one is also screened in the Islands / I Lands program.
- CZECH REPUBLIC / 2009 / Czech / Color / Video / 90 min
Director: Martin Mareček
A humorous, playful, up-tempo and lighthearted essay film documenting six years with cultural and social movement “AUTO*MATE” that calls for restrictions on motor vehicles.
- Because We Were Born
- FRANCE, BRAZIL / 2008 / Portuguese / Color / 35mm / 90 min
Directors: Jean-Pierre Duret, Andrea Santana
Two boys live on the outskirts of a town in the Brazilian state of Pernambouc. They are unmistakably children, but they are also individuals who live in the midst of harsh realities, and their faces radiate hope.
- Driving Men
- USA / 2008 / English / Color / Video / 68 min
Director: Susan Mogul
Feminist video artist Susan Mogul interviews the men in her life from the unique viewpoint of the passenger seat as they drive, bringing her own life into focus.
- Encirclement—Neo-Liberalism Ensnares Democracy
- CANADA / 2008 / French, English / B&W / Video / 160 min
Director: Richard Brouillette
An interview documentary that critically reconstructs neoliberal ideology, the origins and current state of the elitism and imperialism that form its basis, and the media systems that support it.
- The Fortress
- SWITZERLAND / 2008 / French, Others / Color / 35mm / 105 min
Director: Fernand Melgar
A Swiss reception center where asylum seekers are temporarily detained while awaiting official judgment. By closely observing this place where “screening” is part of everyday life, the realities presently facing refugees are thrown into relief.
- I am Von Höfler (Variation on Werther)
- HUNGARY / 2008 / English, Hungarian / Color, B&W / Video / 160 min
Director: Forgács Péter
The 250-year tale of Hungary’s venerable von Höfler family is told through photos, home movies, letters, and the film adaptation of The Sorrows of Young Werther which was supposedly modeled on their ancestor.
- Japan: A Story of Love and Hate
- UK, JAPAN / 2009 / English, Japanese / Color / Video / 110 min
Director: Sean McAllister
An international co-production depicting the woes and aspirations of Japan’s working poor, set in Yamagata and directed by an Englishman. Through charming and sincere revelations about his own life, he asks simple questions about Japan’s dark realities as an industrial power as he builds on friendships and changes relationships.
- The Lightning Testimonies
- INDIA / 2007 / English, Others / Color, B&W / Video / 113 min
Director: Amar Kanwar
A depiction of the cruelty of violence and the dignified, indomitable spirit of women, using a range of visual techniques to trace the history of conflict since the separation of India and Pakistan in 1947 that perpetuates the never-ending cycle of sexual violence against women.
- The Mother
- SWITZERLAND, FRANCE, RUSSIA / 2007 / Russian / Color / Video / 80 min
Directors: Antoine Cattin, Pavel Kostomarov
Liubov (Liuba) has run away from her abusive husband with her nine children through the snowfields of Russia. Her life as a dairy farmer, caring for her children with the help of her eldest daughter amidst violence and angry voices, is drenched in vodka and poverty.
- The New Rijksmuseum
- THE NETHERLANDS / 2008 / Dutch, English, Spanish / Color / Video / 120 min
Director: Oeke Hoogendijk
Plans for a large-scale renovation of the Amsterdam Rijksmuseum set off a huge controversy amongst local residents as soon as they are announced. Following the story in detail as it escalates into a human drama where the position of the museum director leading the project is called into question, this film goes behind the scenes at the museum to closely examine its internal politics.
- THE NETHERLANDS, GERMANY / 2008 / Spanish / Color / Video / 93 min
Director: Heddy Honigmann
This work, composed like a poem, turns its attention to that which is forgotten and that which we cannot forget in order to live through difficult economic and political circumstances in Lima. Previous works by Honigmann have also screened at this festival: Metal and Melancholy (YIDFF ’95) and The Underground Orchestra (YIDFF ’99) and Crazy (YIDFF 2001).
- The Pier of Apolonovka
- GERMANY / 2008 / Ukrainian / Color / Video / 85 min
Director: Andrei Schwartz
A summer on the Sevastopol pier in Ukraine. The season’s scents and vivid scenes of men and women of all ages come to the fore as we become swept up in the beauty of the people living through this fleeting summer.
- RiP! A Remix Manifesto
- CANADA / 2008 / English / Color / Video / 86 min
Director: Brett Gaylor
A scathing enquiry into intellectual property rights, beginning with the career of artist Girl Talk whose work samples and rearranges pre-existing music. It reveals the fact that the issue of copyright and intellectual property rights now stretches all the way from image and music to cancer treatments, while exploring the true meaning of originality.
- Staub (Dust)
- GERMANY, SWITZERLAND / 2007 / German / Color, B&W / 35mm / 94 min
Director: Hartmut Bitomsky
Observations of the various forms of dust that permeate our world, blended with the findings of technicians and scientists. The latest work from YIDFF 2001 juror Hartmut Bitomsky.
- ISRAEL, FRANCE / 2008 / Hebrew / Color / 35mm / 85 min
Director: Avi Mograbi
Scenes of a former Israeli soldier involved in the fatal shootings of two Palestinian policemen testifying to camera with his girlfriend are interspersed with songs sung about the incident by the filmmaker himself, raising questions about Israeli identity.