Yamagata and Film
“Yamagata” Amidst the Chaos
Launched at YIDFF 2007, “Yamagata and Film” is a program dedicated to exploring documentaries, directors, actors, and film culture with deep ties to Yamagata Prefecture. Eight years have passed since the program began, and this fifth installment of the program may very well be a turning point. At least that is how it feels to me.
Have a look below. At first glance, you may think that few—or possibly none—of the titles have anything to do with Yamagata.
You may suspect that we’ve run out of material and are trying desperately to get by on what might pass as thematically appropriate. Or perhaps you might think that I as coordinator applied my own personal taste and merely chose what appealed to me.
Neither of these suspicions would be correct however.
Take, for example, “Yamagata and the Postwar Era.” Because Yamagata Prefecture did not suffer air strikes in World War II, it is commonly believed to have suffered little. However, prior to the war, Yamagata was required by state policy to send some 18,000 of its residents to Manchuria, making it the prefecture with the second highest number of emigrants to Manchuria out of all forty-seven prefectures in Japan. Between the Soviet invasion of Manchuria and Japan’s defeat in the war in 1945, around half of the Japanese settlers from Yamagata died. Painful and deep scars of war still remain, here in Yamagata.
In the program “Telling Lies is How Documentaries Get Started,” we ask ourselves what constitutes a documentary, and about the relationship between fact and fiction through a look at the genre of fake documentaries. This, too, is not unrelated to Yamagata. According to producer Kaeyama Shigeki, Mori Tatsuya presents “Truth or Lies,” which aired on TV Tokyo in 2006 and is one of the works that will be screened in our program, was inspired by the documentary Happy Birthday, Mr. Mograbi (screened at YIDFF ’99) by Israeli director Avi Mograbi, who has deep ties to YIDFF. Creation of the fiction was inspired by reality, and we at the festival are quite tickled that it is the reality of the connection with Yamagata that brought it about.
The other programs in “Yamagata and Film” are deeply intertwined with Yamagata Prefecture’s history and culture and with YIDFF. If you look closely enough, you’ll see a connection to Yamagata in each of these films. Perhaps some of you will feel jarred by the gap between the previous festival’s nostalgic lineup and this year’s chaotic collection of works. But stop and think about it for a moment. Chaos is a point that we pass as we head toward creating a new future. This is the turning point from which we will tease out new answers.
We’re moving on from longing for a Yamagata of times past to searching for a way into the future. Nothing would make me happier than if you discover a new, future Yamagata, amidst the chaos of “Yamagata and Film.”