Yamagata Prizes

A. M. Nornes amnornes at umich.edu
Wed Oct 24 10:39:52 EDT 2001

The Yamagata film festival ended a couple weeks ago, and I saw many familiar
faces from KineJapan. I've been meaning to write up some thoughts about what
was happening, but haven't had a spare moment to even reflect on it. Perhaps
someone else who was there could get the ball rolling? In any case, there is
an announcement from the fest about prize winners.



 Y  I  D  F  F      N  e  w  s    .................October 24, 2001

YAMAGATA International Documentary Film Festival 2001 October 3 - 9


 [ H E A D L I N E S ]

 * YIDFF 2001 Prize Winners & Jury's Comments
 * The Number of films shown & figures
 * Additions & Changes to the Program
 * Words from the Festival Office


   YIDFF 2001 Prize Winners & Jurors' Ccomments

++Prizes for the International Competition
Jurors: Hartmut Bitomsky, Bernard Eisenschitz, Ann Hui, Kuroki
Kazuo, Ivars Seleckis

Jury's comment (Hartmut Bitomsky)
On behalf of the International jury I would like to make a few
First of all, the jury wants to thank all the film and video makers
whose works were part of the competition.
The jury also wants to comment the organizers of the YIDFF for the
integration of video -- analog or digital-- into the various
programs as so much important documentary work these days is done
in this format.
We were especially pleased to see the video works screened in the
state of the art.
While disturbing events are taking place we were able to share
films and videos that were made all over the world and brought to
Yamagata.  We are very grateful for that.
Still, the International Jury wants to communicate that while we
were watching and discussing the program in the back of our minds
we had all the time worried thoughts.
We are deploring the victims of the recent terrorist attacks.
As a response to these attacks we have seen an increasing racism in
many parts of the world, and now we are witnessing the response of
warfare that will destroy or damage the lives of many innocent
The jury is afraid that racism and warfare are not appropriate
answers to the problem of terrorism, and will in fact magnify the
problem instead of resolving it.

+The Grand Prize (The Robert and Frances Flaherty Prize)

The Land of the Wandering Souls (France)  Dir: Rithy Panh

contrasts living conditions out of the 19th century with technology
in the era of globalization.  The filmmaking process parallels the
hardships that the film's subjects, the workers laying down the
cable, were enduring.  The director achieves the rare feat of
bringing daily life to the screen and that -- even rarer -- of
conveying the physicality of labor.  Through these, he makes the
tragedies of Cambodian history felt in a concrete way.

+Prize of Excellence (The Mayor's Prize)

In Vanda's Room (Portugal, Germany, Switzerland)  Dir: Pedro Costa

tells of a demolition process: of a neighborhood and of a group of
people.  It visits the borders of civilization at a time when
civilization is collapsing. The director establishes the right
distance in watching his outcast characters with affection over a
period of a year.  With the simplest use of picture and sound, the
film unfolds a slight narrative thread registering the passing of
time, shot after shot.  Any conclusion, whether moralistic or
dramatic, would be indecent, and the film doesn't force one on the

+Runner-up Prize

Mysterious Object at Noon (Thailand)  Dir: Apichatpong Weerasethakul

follows the thread of innumerable tales, from the trivial to the
legendary, spun across the country of Thailand.  In the course of
its making and unfolding, what started out as an epic narrative
becomes more and more of a documentary.  Through their fictional
representation, whether original or media-produced, it captures the
lives of those who appear in it.

6 Easy Pieces (USA, Italy, Portugal)  Dir: Jon Jost

takes us to the border of what film can be.  It's an open project
that doesn't attempt to make any statement, but stresses its
materials as a composer would his music, using space, color, time.
The filmmaker insists that his "electronic cinema" is a return to
an authentic way of seeing.  We took his word that his material is
documentary, i.e. taken from reality, not dramatic or loaded with
meaning.  It makes us share in his pleasure at seeing, and captures
moments of life that never took a sense before.

+Special Prize

A2 (Japan)  Dir: Mori Tatsuya

The filmmaker had the courage to get inside a sect, Aum, that
committed criminal actions. He was wondering whether there was more
to this group than the demonic image imposed by the media.  He
shows the sect and Japanese society facing each other like twins,
like mirror images.  The film expresses a sense of the confusion of
our post-modern world.  It gives a frightening picture of a society
under stress, where the germs of totalitarianism can very easily
surge in order to restore a lost consensus.

++New Asian Currents Awards
Jurors: Sato Makoto, Chalida Uabumrungjit

+Ogawa Shinsuke Prize

Soshin: In Your Dreams, A True Story about Love (Australia)
Dir: Melissa Kyu-jung Lee

_Soshin: In Your Dreams_ takes a unique and extremely funny
approach in dealing with the private theme of family, while subtly
presenting the sorrows of life as an immigrant. _A True Story about
Love_ provocatively profiles the stereotypes of Asian men through
the fictional story of the director's own love drama. We recognize
and highly commend the filmmaker's artistic talent in creating
these two contrasting films, and foresee a promising future lying

+Awards of Excellence

Farewell (Korea)  Dir: Hwang Yun

>From the viewpoint of animals living in cages, the filmmaker
approaches a very ordinary place like the zoo with bias neither to
ideas of wilderness conservation nor animal protection. We highly
praise the filmmaker's talent in elevating this new perspective in
her film.

More than One Is Unhappy (China)  Dir: Wang Fen

Marriage is for a couple to continuously struggle while sinking to
the bottom of a pond. -The filmmaker presents this archetype of
married life through coolly observing her own parents' lives. While
the production quality is rough, we recognize a bright future for
such a dynamic talent.

+Special Mentions

Along the Railway (China)  Dir: Du Haibin

Sky-blue Hometown (Korea)  Dir: Kim So-young

++Citizens' Prize

A2 (Japan)  Dir: Mori Tatsuya

Jurors: Leo Bankersen, Isaka Yoshiyuki, Altaf Mazid

*For a film in the International Competition

In Vanda's Room (Portugal, Germany, Switzerland)  Dir: Pedro Costa

For presenting life in its near-original form. The high artistic
quality of this unusual documentary restores the human dignity in a
life of poverty.

*For a film in the New Asian Currents

My Friend Su (India)  Dir: Neeraj Bhasin

For the subtle combination of cinematographic poetry and human
understanding. In a very fluent and often humorous way, the film
reveals the complicated feelings of a young man who feels that
inside he is really female.

++NETPAC Award
Jurors: Ishizaka Kenji, Nam In-young
All films in New Asian Currents and the five films in the
International Competition by Asian directors were under
consideration for the NETPAC Award.

My Migrant Soul (Bangladesh)  Dir: Yasmine Kabir

>From an original perspective, the filmmaker takes upon the migrant
workers' issue that is evident in many places around the world.
With great respect for an intelligent film, at one glance seemingly
made very easily, but with deep empathy for the subject, we award
the NETPAC Award to this film.

+Special Mentions

Pansy and Ivy (Korea)  Dir: Kye Un-kyoung

Focusing on the theme of marriage for disabled people and the
societal pressure against them, the filmmaker succeeds in creating
an appealing relationship with the subjects and completed a
humorous film. We highly commend this feat.

Mysterious Object at Noon (Thailand)  Dir: Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Taking story-telling, an ancient human activity, as its material,
the film nimbly jumps across the conventional dichotomy of fiction
vs. documentary, creating a new "hyper-art" that foreshadows the
arrival of "Images of the 21st century."


   The Number of Films Shown & Figures

++The Number of Films Shown: 173
   International Competition:15
   Special Invitation Films:14
   New Asian Currents: 34
   New Asian Currents Invitation: 8
   New Asian Currents Special: 10
   Jurors' Films: 6
   Robert Kramer Retrospective: 23
   Kamei Fumio Retrospective: 42
   Japanese Panorama: 9
   YIDFF Network Screenings: 4
   High School Student Workshop Film Screenings: 5
   Classic Japanese Film Screenings: 3

++Guest: 87 (including 57 from overseas)

**There were some guests listed in the guest list from the last
issue of YIDFF News who could not attend.
NETPAC Juror: Gotot Prakosa (Indonesia)
International Competition: Forgacs Peter (Hungary), director of
_Angelos' Film_, Jean-Louis Comolli (France), director of
_Buenaventura Durruti, Anarchist_, Rithy Panh (Cambodia, resident
of France), director of _The Land of the Wandering Souls_
Special Invitation Films: Nelson Pereira dos Santos (Brazil),
director of _The Masters and the Slaves_
New Asian Currents: Azza El-Hassan (Palestine), director of _News
Time_, Paolo Villaluna (Philippines), director of _Margin_

++Press: 335 (including 49 from overseas)

++Volunteers: 208

++Attendance: 18,500

   Additions & Changes to the Program

Additions: _City Empires_ (Robert Kramer Retrospective)
Changes: From _Guns_ to _FALN_ and _In the Country_, from _Doc's
Kingdom_ to _Against Forgetting,_ from _Fear_ to _Plans Lumiere_
(Robert Kramer Retrospective)


   Words from the festival office

   With the help of all those connected to the 7th YIDFF, in
delighted to say that the festival has successfully come to a close.
   How did you enjoy the festival?  All guests have safely returned
home and I feel both a sense of exhaustion and relief.  Sorting
through the remaining paperwork I also feel a sense of nostalgia
with everyone for what was although having seemingly passed quite
quickly, in fact a long enduring seven days of festival activities.

(ASANO Fujiko, International Competition coordinator, Yamagata

The next issue is scheduled for November delivery.


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YIDFF Organizing Committee Office (Yamagata Office)
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