Located in a verdant, rolling valley far north of Tokyo, Yamagata City is the site for Asia’s first international documentary film festival. The first Film Festival (in 1989) was an event to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Yamagata City, the sponsor of the festival at the time, and has been held biennially ever since in Yamagata’s best season, October.
The atmosphere of the festival is intimate, and affords Asian filmmakers a prime opportunity to meet with their Western counterparts. The reasons for it being a magnet for independent filmmakers are simple.
Until recently, the week-long YIDFF was one of the few film festivals in Asia devoted exclusively to the documentary form. Its scope, however, reaches beyond simply screening recent, ground-breaking work in the International Competition. New Asian Currents, the competition program introducing emerging filmmakers from across Asia, has over the years become one of the Festival’s vibrant centers of attention as a meeting place of raw youthful energy. By featuring special events and programs shedding light on the history and diversity of filmmaking, the YIDFF is working hard to create a new forum for the production of alternative, independent, non-fiction film and the discussion of documentary as a form of expression.
It was in this spirit that the documentarist Ogawa Shinsuke, who passed away in 1992, spearheaded the organization of the first Festival. From the time of his earliest films about the Narita Airport protests in the 1960s to 70s, to his last works produced in Yamagata, Ogawa encouraged filmmakers around Asia to devote their energy to making meaningful documentaries. In honor of this dedicated filmmaker, the Ogawa Shinsuke Prize was established in 1993 to provide encouragement to young Asian documentarists.
We hope the YIDFF will always provide a fruitful and enjoyable gathering place for filmmakers from abroad and for the citizens of Yamagata City.
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