International Competition

Ignacio Agüero  This Is the Way I Like It II
Dina Iordanova
Ranjan Palit  In Camera
Jocelyne Saab  Once Upon a Time in Beirut: The Story of a Star
Shichiri Kei  DUBHOUSE: Experience in Material No. 52 | Another Side / Salome’s Daughter—Remix

To Places Unique and Unforgettable

Over 1,100 works were submitted to the International Competition this year. The ten members of the pre-selection committee, myself included, carefully watched them all, exchanging our ideas about them and holding vigorous debates, until we had narrowed down the final lineup to fifteen works. The process spanned half a year, and we were overcome with relief and fatigue when we reached the end of this long road. I personally felt as if a part of me had gotten lost in the plethora of places depicted in the worlds of the films. It is often said that a movie is a kind of journey; this year’s International Competition in particular displays the inseparable connections between places and people. These fifteen films draw the viewer, inexorably, into their worlds.

Pierre-François Sauter and Philip Widmann deal with immigration and dispersed families, depicting the precious lives of those that fortune has dealt such a hand, stirring up our emotions through a careful coordination of the mise-en-scène and dialogue. Alfoz Tanjour wonderfully captures the feelings of the Syrian people towards a motherland from which they are all but barred. Anna Zamecka gives us a fierce record of a battle over defending one’s place in the world, portraying a young girl who bravely supports her collapsed family yet is unable to save herself from the clutches of oppression. Ester Gould, Sha Qing and Chico Pereira each show what lies at the end of a journey for a person, after years of either gloom or search for adventure. João Moreira Salles gives us a must-see work that uses private vantages to ambitiously ponder what it means to document using film in the first place. In two Japanese works of uncommonly rigorous documentation that draw the viewer into the worlds of the people portrayed, veteran Hara Kazuo returns with a new film that follows the plaintiffs in the Osaka/Sennan asbestos litigation, while Agatsuma Kazuki faithfully depicts the scattering of villagers that resulted from the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, and the process of recovery.

Next we travel to the place called “America,” where politics, society, and people’s values are presently in a state of intense fluctuation. Haiti-born Raoul Peck’s work revisits the still-ongoing problem of racial discrimination from the perspective of a celebrated author. Frederick Wiseman’s new film reveals to us the state of the contemporary US by showing what goes on inside the enormous New York Public Library system, a place where many people gather. John Gianvito has continued on from his 2010 work, tenaciously following the environmental pollution problem caused by a former US military base in the Philippines. These films vividly portray through a variety of original methods the long history of ideals versus reality in the US, a superpower made up of many ethnic groups. Finally, two young directors from Asia who received their film education in the US, Zhu Shengze and Rahul Jain, deftly use the art of cinema to bring to us the present situations of their compatriots struggling under the global economy in their respective homelands.

These works earnestly capture the lives of people grappling honorably to carve out a life wherever they live. I would like nothing more than for you, the audience, to go along with them to each corner of the world to experience each unique and unforgettable time and place. In closing, I want to give my heartfelt thanks to the numerous people supporting the operation of this program. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all of the applicants; the pre-selection committee members; the people that assist with running the venues, subtitles, and screenings; and the five international jurors that dedicated a week out of their busy schedules to participate in the festival in a year characterized by a large number of especially long films.

Hata Ayumi
Program Coordinator