Yamagata Rough Cut!

This program provides an opportunity for people who have come to the festival from around the world to watch, listen, feel and discuss a range of unfinished films. By watching these little, coarsely carvedout fragments of the world—these “rough cuts”—filmmakers, audiences, critics, researchers and people from every walk of life can go beyond the conventions of genre and come together to explore new relationships between the moving image and society.

A “rough cut” refers to the unfinished, roughly edited version of a film prepared prior to its completion. In Yamagata: Rough Cut! we unpack the idea of the “film,” and explore the possibilities of dialogue between the images themselves—the footage—and all those gathered at the festival, in the aim of transcending borders of not only genre and nationality but also divisions that exist between people of different walks of life.

This program, being held now for the fourth time, is based on placing the same if not greater value on talking as it does on watching—not through the talking of filmmakers and panelists, but open discussion that encompasses everyone on the room, with the filmmaker just one among the participants in a larger discussion. Seeing a rough cut means not only seeing a collection of fragments that don’t add up to a finished film, but it is also a way of looking for something out of films other than how perfect or finished they are. For this reason, Yamagata Rough Cut! has also always been designed as a place where we restrain from criticism.

The aim is to slowly put into words how you react in your heart and mind to the realities projected on the screen, and what they make you think about. Even if you are unable to express your reaction, you can listen to what other people may have thought. Through this, hopefully, the personal experience of watching moving images can bring what goes on inside your mind a little bit closer to the outside world.

This year’s Yamagata: Rough Cut! will take up where our previous dialogue in 2017 left off with previous participants Anushka Meenakshi and Iswar Srikumar of Up Down & Sideways, (YIDFF 2017, New Asian Currents) and introduce criticism into the program—not to judge the films, but to share the criticism (the aspects we couldn’t embrace) resulting from our encounter with each film in an aim to augment the ways in which we learn to respond to the moving image.

New to this year’s program, the conversation will be both prefaced and following by a screening of the same footage. Through our dialogue, we will explore how our experience changes on second viewing as a result of our dialogue, which makes us much more actively involved with the film.

We will screen two works from Japan and two other countries in Asia, with simultaneous interpretation for every discussion. Please come and join us, as different languages intersect, and we hold a fluid dialogue with and around these rough cuts.

Sakai Ko, Watanabe Kazutaka
Program Coordinators