From the YIDFF Office

2013-04-19 | Playful Exchange between Images and Discussion, the Public and Private:
Report about Cinema Tetsugaku Cafe @ Yamagata

On Saturday, March 23 we held the Cinema Tetsugaku (philosophy) Cafe, a special program with a small twist on our regular Yamagata Film Library Friday Theater screenings. The Tetsugaku Cafe is an event that first originated in Osaka, and is now flourishing all over Japan. Participants drink tea and speak freely about the various questions and issues of everyday life, in a space for philosophy not bound by strict protocol. This installment of the Tetsugaku Cafe was organized together with the Tetsugaku Cafe @ Yamagata. As a guest we had filmmaker Maeda Shinjiro, who invokes various strategies as he sketches the world around us with his video camera. The program’s focus was the discussion that followed the works screened.

We showed works from Maeda’s ongoing “hibi” series, hibi 13 full moons (2005)—which screened in our “all about me?” program at YIDFF 2005—and hibi AUG (2008–2013), which compile images from five months of August, starting in 2008. Regular participants from the Tetsugaku Cafe @ Sendai also joined us, and following the screening there was a full discussion with director and moderator Okuyama Shin’ichiro, in which impressions on Maeda’s work were shared freely.

Maeda’s work cuts the time and space in which everyday life is interwoven into 15 second segments, and our participants had much to say about his films. There were those who sought tips on how to make home videos, those interested in the town that yielded Maeda’s images, and those who discussed the different production periods and filmic techniques embodied in each film. We were enthralled by the diversity of responses we received.

So-called “personal films” are different from most traditional documentary, which dig deep into concrete social issues and make an argument about them. In personal films, a private gaze is given to the everyday and transformed into images. With film as a medium, this private space is shared with multiple audiences and expanded into the public sphere and discourse. This is phenomenon overlaps with that of the Tetsugaku Cafe, the public sphere in which private opinions can be discussed with others in an open space.

Maeda graciously answered all questions asked. Thanks to him and our participants, who voiced their opinions frankly, the private and public communed in an ideal form, making the Cinema Tetsugaku Cafe a very worthwhile event.

Since our last festival in 2011, YIDFF has organized salon talks following every work screened in the International Competition program, in addition to the question and answer sessions with the directors immediately after each screening. In these spaces, directors and their audiences can speak with each other up-close, and at our last festival we received positive feedback from many of our participants. The film festival space is not only about the act of watching film, but also creating a space of discovery and encounter in which audiences, who share an experience of watching film, can share their feelings and views on those works seen. We will be holding these salon talks at our upcoming festival YIDFF 2013, and expect countless discussion to take root in various venues.

Hata Ayumi (Yamagata Office)


* At the Yamagata Documentary Film Library Friday Theater screening this month on the 26th, we will be screening a special selection of other short works by Maeda Shinjiro. Director Maeda plans to be in attendance again. If you find yourself in the area, please feel free to drop by!