Film Criticism Collective

Yamagata Film Criticism Workshop

Aspiring film critics have the chance to think, read, and write about the world we live in, through the lens of documentary, while immersed in the lively atmosphere of a film festival. Professional critics advise the participants, who write their own articles about films, to be published during the festival.* For the first time this year, the Japan Foundation Asia Center is co-presenting the workshop, giving aspiring critics the opportunity to take part from Southeast Asia. A symposium on film criticism will also be held. The workshop, conducted in both English and Japanese, will be led by film critics Chris Fujiwara, Kitakoji Takashi, and Kaneko Yu.  

* URL: www.yidff-live.info


Film Criticism Collective

The Film Criticism Collective is a platform for the creation and dissemination of an international film criticism that seeks to engage with and promote the most original and important works of independent world cinema. Inspired by the spirit and passion of the late Canadian Filipino film critic Alexis Tioseco, the collective acknowledges the special significance of East and Southeast Asia as a site of contemporary cinematic production and thought, while also pointing out the necessity for critics to reach beyond national boundaries and existing cultural definitions, as Tioseco did.

YIDFF 2015 marks the beginning of the collective with a workshop and a symposium. At the Film Criticism Workshop, young aspiring film critics from Japan and Southeast Asia will work under the mentorship of recognized critics. The symposium brings together critics, filmmakers, and film programmers to discuss the theme of “Documentary as Experimental Cinema.” Through examining this subject, it will be possible to explore some under-recognized aspects of the responsibilities and problems that face critics of documentary cinema. A publication, in both English and Japanese, will follow, containing texts written by the workshop participants and transcripts of the symposium, together with other essays and interviews relating to documentary cinema and film criticism.

The collective will continue its activities in 2016 and beyond by organizing further annual events at other international film festivals, combined with a regular series of online and print publications devoted to analyzing important films, filmmakers, and film genres and the infrastructural conditions of contemporary cinema. Through these efforts, the collective will seek to ensure the continuity of a global space where young international critics can develop their sensibilities and skills in close dialogue with filmmakers, film festival programmers, and audiences.

The need for this space is acute at the present time, when the role of criticism is economically marginalized, and the culture of cinema is fragmented and dispersed. This fragmentation is nowhere more apparent than in the separation between Western and Asian film criticism. In part this separation is the result of the dominance of the English language in global film culture and the relative linguistic isolation this dominance imposes on those who write in other languages. The collective will seek to correct this situation by providing opportunities for interaction between Asian film critics and their Western counterparts and by making critical texts available in languages other than English.

Invoking the memory of Alexis Tioseco in connection with the founding of the collective has a specific purpose. Tioseco combined deep knowledge of a wide range of cinema with a remarkable ability to communicate his enthusiasm and infect others with it. During the too-short period in which he was a well-known film critic, Tioseco became the most important critical champion for Southeast Asian independent film, an advocacy he practiced at, among other places, the website Criticine.* Six years after his passing, the organizers of the collective hope that Tioseco’s work as a voice for independent film, an intermediary among different cultures, and a force for mobilizing the activities of other writers can serve as a model for film critics of the future.

Chris Fujiwara

* URL: www.criticine.com


- Special Screening Storm Children—Book One

Mga Anak ng Unos, Unang Aklat

THE PHILIPPINES / 2014 / Tagalog / B&W / DCP / 143 min

Director, Photography, Editing: Lav Diaz
Sound Design: Hazel Orencio
Additional Photography: Sultan Diaz
Production Companies: Sine Olivia Pilipinas, DMZ Docs
Source: Sine Olivia Pilipinas

In November 2013, Typhoon Yolanda struck the Philippines, causing thousands of deaths. A few months later, Lav Diaz and his film crew visited the island of Leyte, which had been seen exceptional devastation, recording a post-apocalyptic vision of people living in a slum wedged next to a beached cargo ship. The film has almost no dialogue. Using a largely still camera and black-and-white images, this sublime report grasps the energy of those children who survived the storm, working to build a new world in place of their present demolished one of huts and rubble.

- Lav Diaz

Born 1958 on Mindanao, the Philippines. Lav Diaz’s films include Batang West Side (2001), Evolution of a Filipino Family (2004), and Heremias (2006). Death in the Land of Encantos (2007) closed the Horizonti section of the Venice Film Festival and was awarded a special mention for the Golden Lion. Melancholia (2008) won the Grand Prize of Venice’s Horizonti section. Norte, the End of History (2013, YIDFF 2013) was invited to Cannes’s Un Certain Regard section. From What is Before (2014) won the Golden Leopard Prize at the Locarno International Film Festival. He is known for breathtakingly beautiful long takes and films of formidable length, as well as his perspective on the social and political reality in the Philippines. Served as a juror of the International Competition at YIDFF 2013.


Symposium Documentary as Experimental Cinema

We can see in the work of filmmakers like Pedro Costa, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Wang Bing, and Rithy Panh that the cutting-edge images typical of the digital video age show up again and again in the world of documentary. This symposium aims to seek the common ground between documentary film and avant-garde visual expression. Members of the panel will include the YIDFF Film Criticism Workshop teachers, as well as film critics from Singapore, the Philippines, and Indonesia. As a starting point for a lively discussion, there will be a screening of Lav Diaz’s Storm Children—Book One, a film on the aftermath of the 2013 Philippine typhoon.

Chris Fujiwara (Film critic, Programmer)
Kitakoji Takashi (Film critic)
Kaneko Yu (Critic, Editor of Documentary Magazine NEONEO)
Philip Cheah (Film critic, Editor, Big O)
Teng Mangansakan (Filmmaker, Director of SalaMindanaw International Film Festival)
Chalida Uabumrungjit (Film Archivist, Director of Salaya Documentary Film Festival)
Yuki Aditya (Director of Arkipel Jakarta International Documentary & Experimental Film Festival)