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Friday, Oct. 2, 2009
Yamagata's doc feast
Launched in 1989 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the incorporation of Yamagata, a city of 250,000 situated in the agricultural heart of Japan's northern Tohoku region, the biannual Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival was established by the late Shinsuke Ogawa, a resident of the city and Japan's most celebrated documentary filmmaker.
Ogawa Productions, a communelike film consortium, became world-renowned for its anthropological methodology. Its most famous work is a seven-part series on the farmers of Narita who fought the government's plan to build an international airport in their midst.
The festival has become a defining regional event, carried out by hundreds of local volunteers and exemplified by the Yamagata Documentary Film Library, which was established in 1994 and contains thousands of videos from all over the world.
The International Competition section of this year's festival, which runs Oct. 8-15, includes 15 features, ranging from "Auto*Mate," a lighthearted look at the Czech car culture, to "Encirclement," a study on the effects of neoliberalism on global democracy. Other docs include one about Japan's working poor, a scientific study of house dust and a video artist's series of interviews with the men in her life conducted while they are driving.
For more information in English check www.yidff.jp/home-e.html