Presentations from Children’s Film Workshops

Yamagata “Cinema for Children” Filmmaking Workshop
Kotoni Yume Cinema Project (Sapporo)
Children Meet Cinema

Supported by Yamagata Prefectural Foundation of Lifelong Learning and Culture
Cooperation: Hokkaido Community Cinema in Sapporo, Children Meet Cinema

Over the years, YIDFF has provided through a trial-and-error process, opportunities for children to be exposed to filmmaking. Some examples are “Play with Film” (2004), “Children’s Film Workshop at the Yamagata Documentary Film Library” (2010–), “Family Film and Animation Wonderland” (2010–11), “Let’s Make Animation in Fukushima” (2014–15). This program will introduce the various efforts being made nationwide to give children a chance to create films. The act of creation will surely bring them new discoveries and delights.

Yamagata “Cinema for Children” Filmmaking Workshop

In March, when Yamagata’s snow finally melted, thirty-two children between first grade and second year of high school met for the first time to try their hand at filmmaking, with just two days to plan, research, film, direct, record sound for, edit, and then screen their creations. Though they also simultaneously filmed a “making of,” and it was a program of firsts—both for the children and for the adults supporting them—they somehow met their deadline. The results attest to the intensity of the two days.

- Films from “Cinema for Children” Filmmaking Workshop

JAPAN / 2015 / Japanese / Color / Blu-ray / 49 min

Ring (6 min) / Nuts—Love (10 min) / Elizabeth and Takeshi Story (13 min) / Love Is Wonderful (8 min) / Making of “Cinema for Children” Filmmaking Workshop (12 min)

The children were assigned the theme “love” by their instructor, filmmaker Togashi Shin. Split into four groups of mixed ages, the participants crisscrossed the city of Yamagata, sometimes taking scenic routes to illustrate what “love” means to them: adventure, fantasy, romantic love, fictional TV programs, dance, and musical improvisation. Love just might be all about verve and nerve.

Yamagata “Cinema for Children” Filmmaking Workshop

Dates: March 7–8, 2015
Venue: Tohoku University of Art and Design
Instructor: Togashi Shin
Observers: Sato Koichi, Shoji Itsuki, Suzuki Shuichiro
Participants: Five 1st graders, one 2nd grader, eight 3rd graders, five 4th graders, six 5th-graders, two 1st-year junior high school students, one 2nd-year junior high school student, one 3rd-year junior high school student, two 1st-year high school students, and one 2nd-year high school student
Organizer: “Cinema for Children” Project Organizing Committee

Kotoni Yume Cinema Project (Sapporo)

There’s a workshop in Sapporo that’s been held for six years, in which junior high school students learn how to make short films. The program has received widespread acclaim in recent years, as films created by participants have been shown at film festivals and even overseas. One example of that success, AKANE was made possible after a project committee—comprising Hokkaido Community Cinema in Sapporo, which runs the workshops, along with Kotoni residents—obtained grants, corporate sponsorships, and donations from the public and raised 6 million yen for its production. Director Sakamoto Yuno, a 1st-year high school student, participated in the workshop for two years, and wrote the script when she was in her 3rd year of junior high school. The project was completed with the support of over 400 people, including twenty junior high and high school students and around thirty filmmaking professionals.


(Akane iro kurarinetto)

JAPAN / 2014 / Japanese / Color / Blu-ray / 81 min
Distribution: Theater Kino

There comes a time when one must decide on a future path. Discover what young people who are no longer children, but harbor feelings of distrust toward adults and have misgivings about becoming adults themselves, have to say in this coming-of-age fantasy produced by a team of teenagers led by director Sakamoto, himself a high school student.

Kotoni Yume Cinema Project

Dates: October 2012–February 2014
Place: Kotoni, Nishi Ward, Sapporo
Instructors: Eight, plus approximately thirty other adults who participated in the filming
Participants: Twenty-one students between 1st year of junior high school and 3rd year of high school
Organizer: Hokkaido Community Cinema in Sapporo

Children Meet Cinema

Children Meet Cinema is a film workshop for elementary students throughout Japan that teaches film appreciation, production, and making toy devices for appreciating the visual medium. The idea behind the project is for adults to stand back and give children autonomy, as they meet and learn from top-class filmmakers. Over the course of three days participants cooperate in creating stories, recording, editing, and screening their completed films. To date, directors such as Nakae Yuji, Kore-eda Hirokazu, Hagiuda Koji, Suwa Nobuhiro, Kawase Naomi, Togashi Shin, Suzuki Takuji, Maeda Tetsu, Yokohama Satoko, and Sunada Mami have participated as instructors.

- The Mysterious Forest—Seeking the Place of Dreams

(Fushigi no mori - yume miteta basho o mezashite)

JAPAN / 2015 / Japanese / Color / Blu-ray / 11 min

In search of an observatory on top of a hill, four children enter a mysterious forest. They fall asleep, only to awake each in a different place. They try to find one another, but get lost in the forest. This surprising masterpiece eschews a narrative, telling its story through the children’s earnest performances and lyrical camera work that flows from their movements. The film’s music is also original, invented by the children involved.

Children Meet Cinema in Yokohama 2015

Dates: July 24–26, 2015
Venue: Tokyo University of the Arts
Instructor: Suwa Nobuhiro
Participants: One 1st grader, one 2nd grader, two 3rd graders, one 5th grader, one 6th grader
Staff team: Imahashi Takashi, Okawa Keiko, Fukata Takayuki
Organizer: Children Meet Cinema

- Standing Tall on Sodai Street

(Sodai-dori de tachiagaru)

JAPAN / 2014 / Japanese / Color / Blu-ray / 6 min

The theme director Kore-eda offered was “?”. The filmmakers set forth into the streets of Waseda, seeking a theme that would give them good questions to pursue. The team still found themselves wandering around town on the evening of the second day, and they had yet to find their subject. Finally they found a group of bronze baby statues on Sodai Street. They decided to check it out, but as they asked around, no one seemed to know anything about the statues! The filmmakers’ rush to meet their deadline fills this masterpiece of documentary with explosive energy.

Children Meet Cinema at Waseda Enpaku 2014

Dates: November 21–24 2014
Venue: Waseda University and environs
Instructor: Kore-eda Hirokazu
Participants: One 1st grader, one 3nd grader, two 4th graders, one 6th grader
Staff team: Imanaka Kohei, Sato Yuki, Eto Itsuki, Teramura Nanki
Organizer: The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum of Waseda University

- We Who Felt Time

(Toki o kanjita bokutachi)

JAPAN / 2015 / Japanese / Color / Blu-ray / 11 min

The theme that Director Maeda proposed was “time.” What is time? Can you see time? People say they don’t have enough time, but is time something you can really measure? After everyone thought about time, one team made a documentary and a second team made a work of fiction. We Who Felt Time is the documentary.

Children Meet Cinema—Intermediate Class 2014

Dates: March 26–28 2015
Venue: 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa and environs
Instructor: Maeda Tetsu
Participants: One 1st grader, one 3nd grader, two 4th graders, one 6th grader
Staff team: Ueno Masaru, Kitai Ruiko, Michiyoshi Masaya
Organizer: Children Meet Cinema


Symposium Cinema for Children

Thinking about the relationship between children and film involves also thinking about children and education, as well as film and community building. We’d like this program to be a learning experience not only for filmmaking workshop organizers and those who have participated in such workshops, but for people with a variety of backgrounds and experiences.