Launched in 1989, the Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival is one of the key events in Asia dedicated to documentary filmmaking. In celebration of their long history, YIDFF has put together a special series showcasing some of the key works from Japan which have featured over the last 30 years. The program will stream worldwide (excl. Japan) via DAFilms from Jan. 17 to Feb. 6 with all titles streaming for free during the first week.
A Movie Capital
Directed by Toshio Iizuka, A Movie Capital is a record of the Yamagata Documentary Film Festival’s first edition held in 1989 and against the turbulent geopolitical backdrop of the Tiananmen Square protests and the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Living on the River Agano
Makoto Sato’s documentary weaves its way along the Agano River talking to the mostly elderly residents of small-town Japan many of whom remained unrecognised victims of the Minamata disease caused by industrial pollution.
1997 documentary from Naomi Kawase focussing on six groups of elderly people living in the Yoshino Mountains.
The New God
Personal documentary from Yutaka Tsuchiya in which he documents his relationship with a right-wing punk band which eventually led to his marrying its vocalist Karin Amamiya despite not sharing their nationalist views.
Tatsuya Mori’s 2001 sequel to his 1997 film A in which he returns to follow the everyday lives of members of the new religion sect Aum Shinrikyo who were responsible for the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo underground.
The Cheese and the Worms
1995 personal documentary from Haruyo Kato documenting her life in the mountains living with her grandmother while caring for her mother who is suffering with a terminal illness.
Documentary by ethnic Korean Yang Yong-hi who stayed in Japan after her father who was a committed communist and leader of the pro-North Korean movement sent her three brothers back to North Korea as part of a repatriation program only to see them become increasingly dependent on care packages from home as the situation in Pyongyang continues to decline.
2013 documentary by Ryusuke Hamaguchi & Ko Sakai focussing on the stories of those affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Experimental doc from Kaori Oda shot on Super-8 focussing on the “cenote” sink holes of Mexico which were once the sole water source for Mayans living far from rivers and lakes.
Pickles and Komian Club
Poignant 2021 documentary from Koichi Sato following Maruhachi Yatarazuke, the owner of a 135-year-old family-run pickle store forced to close during the pandemic.
All films will be available to stream worldwide (excl. Japan) via DAFilms Jan. 17 – Feb. 6 and will be free to view until Jan. 24. Full details for all the films can be found on the official Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival website, while you can also keep up with the latest news by following the festival on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.