I was surprised and honored to be appointed to the jury for New Asian Currents this year. I also eagerly anticipate encountering the films to be shown.
The first YIDFF was held in 1989, a turbulent time in the world. First, Emperor Hirohito passed away, and Japan moved into the “Heisei” era. Secondly, Soviet troops withdrew from Afghanistan, there was the Recruit scandal in Japan, the Tiananmen Square protests in China, democratic revolution in Eastern Europe, the fall of the Berlin Wall . . . Thirty years have passed since that time. Inequality and poverty has spread in Japanese society, and exclusionism sweeps the world. In this time of despair, I wonder what the documentaries of Asia are going to depict, and if they tease out any hope for us.
I myself was greatly influenced by documentary masters such as Ogawa Shinsuke and Tsuchimoto Noriaki. I believe that I especially learned about siding with the vulnerable, and a spirit of resistance and desire for freedom. These form the backbone of my judgement. On the other hand, I have no idea how I will feel until I actually see the films.
Twenty-one works have been nominated for the New Asian Currents program this time, from various regions and countries such as China, Korea, Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Burma, Singapore, India, Turkey, Iran, and Lebanon. As a juror, I expect to encounter each work without any preconceived notions.
Born in Fujisawa, Kanagawa prefecture in 1951, Erikawa, editor and movie theater executive, now lives in Osaka. After working for publishers such as Hoikusha, and Film Art Inc., he went freelance, and in 1987–1999, worked on the editorial staff of the monthly film criticism magazine Eiga shimbun. In 1989, he published his own book of essays titled Osaka aikan scrap, and in the same year he became the chief editor for the YIDFF Daily Bullentin (at both the first and second YIDFF). In 1996, he worked as chief editor for the Daily Report of the 9th Tokyo International Film Festival, and in 1997 he was involved in the foundation of Cine Nouveau, a community cinema. He also worked as editor and proofreader for the poster, flyer and official catalogue of the Osaka Asian Film Festival, which started under the name of the Korean Entertainment Film Festival 2005 in Osaka, until its 11th installment in 2016. He works in the box office of Cine Nouveau once a week, in addition to his continuing work as a freelance editor.
The Absence of Miyazawa-san
In this year’s festival, Miyazawa Hiraku is not here with us. It is a great loss for all of us who have crossed paths with YIDFF.
Beginning with the first YIDFF in 1989, Miyazawa-san took part as a member of the YIDFF Network, but in 1995, he joined the festival office as the only dedicated staff member—up until then there were only Yamagata city officials who were assigned by rotation to the task of running the festival. After that he became a bridge between the Tokyo office and the Yamagata City government, and through actively participating in festivals across Japan, he became the face of YIDFF. In those years, he took part in the New Asian Currents selection committee, participated in a documentary film festival in Taiwan, and when a Taiwanese dance troupe came to YIDFF, he made every effort to make their performance happen, welcoming them with open arms.
It is not hard to imagine the difficulties he must have faced when YIDFF became an NPO—it was during this time that he left the YIDFF office. He went on to work for the Cinema Center in Yamagata Prefecture, all the while involved with regional screenings in areas ravaged by the 2011 earthquake, was one of the coordinators for YIDFF’s Cinema with Us program, and continued to watch documentaries for the festival as an advisor to the selection committee. During the festival itself he was always busy at the Forum theater where New Asian Currents and other films were screened, handling many things from overseeing volunteers to taking care of problems. I remember being comforted under times of great pressure when I would see Miyazawa-san’s face.
He suddenly passed away in September, 2018. These thirty years of YIDFF have been thirty years of Miyazawa-san.