Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival

As you can see from the title, my city in Japan, Yamagata, is currently in the middle of it's biannual International Documentary Film Festival. It's the first film festival I've ever been to, since there aren't really any near me back in the states, and I'd never really had the desire to go to one before. Although I don't know much about documentaries, having only seen a handful, the two I saw were today were very enjoyable and interesting.

The first one, of which I forgot the title, was about a group of Indians in eastern Canada, Quebec. Basically it was about how they are sort of dying out due to bureaucratic definitions. As more and more Indians married and had children with 'white' people, their grandchildren were coming to be defined as something like 'non-Indian' or 'non-aboriginal.' So part of the film was about how they're trying to get the rights back for their members. There was also a lot just about that culture and community in both Quebec and New England.

The second film was called The Monastery, and was more biographic, about a man named Vig in Denmark who wanted his run-down castle to be used as a monastery by the Russian Orthodox Church. What was most surprising was how absolutely funny parts of this film were. Vig was quite old, and was basically living in this really old castle, trying to fix it up some before some Russian nuns came to evaluate it. It was an incredibly good documentary, and I really enjoyed it.

I'm probably going to see 2 more films tomorrow. Should be a good day. I can't imagine, though, how people (or movie reviewers) can go to film festivals and watch 4 or so movies every day for a week or more. My ass was tired after just two today. Anyway, I feel like I'm really lucky to be here in Japan while such a big film festival is going on.

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