Latest documentary "Oyster Factory" has been officially invited to Locarno International Film Festival 2015! 最新作『牡蠣工場』がロカルノ国際映画祭へ正式招待されました!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Yamagata 山形映画祭


From October 4 till 11, I attended Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival. To be honest, this is the first time for me to go to Yamagata, which surprised many people because most people are repeaters.

The jobs I had to do there were very limited. I did a lecture on "how to sell your doc abroad," did a Q&A after a screening of CAMPAIGN, and joined a lecture by a renowned sociologist Shinji Miyadai as a guest speaker. Other than that, all I had to do was to watch movies, chat with friends and colleagues until early morning, and jump in to hot springs in Zao. It was a luxurious week.

There were four movies I was deeply impressed. The first one was called MT. ZAO (1935) by Koji Tsukamoto. All he shot was that people climbed the mountain and went down the slopes skiing, but it was so thrilling and beautiful. Movies do not have to be complicated. The B&W photography was just superb. I wonder if that much snow in winter is still there in this age of global warming.

The second one was LUBRICATING OIL (1960) by Shinji Takeuchi. It is a short film made as a PR film for an oil company, but the colors, compositions, and sounds are just incredibly beautiful. It is a critique of modern civilization from a point of view of lubricating oil. I've never projected myself onto oil before. It's is so amazing to learn that such a powerful masterpiece was made as a corporate film.

The third one was AN ENGINEER'S ASSISTANT (1963) by Tsuchimoto Noriaki. It's embarrassing to say that I saw his film for the first time. I entered the documentary world after I moved to New York, so I had never had a chance to see Japanese old masterpieces. And when I saw it, I was blown away. This is certainly a masterpiece. It was also shot as a propaganda film for Japan Railroad to show how safe their trains are, but it captures the train running like a beautiful animal. The intricate details of dynamic works by train's staff are really powerful and cinematic. I just loved it.

The fourth film was PAPER CANNOT WRAP UP EMBERS (2006) by Rithy Panh. It is a direct cinema which shows the daily lives and monologues-like dialogues by prostitutes in Phnom Penh. I had no idea how the director shot it and how he got the permission to shoot. The shots are beautifully composed and edited. I didn't understand why this didn't get any awards even if it was in the competition.

Anyway, the week in Yamagata was very enjoyable. I'd like to come back here in 2009 hopefully with my new movie.

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