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Yamagata offers online film course to cope with COVID-19


Yamagata, located in Northeastern Japan, has been a UNESCO Creative City of Film since 2017. As a major hub for films in Japan, the city organizes ‘the Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival’ (YIDFF). Attracting over 24,000 visitors, this is the most renowned and longest running international documentary film festival in Asia.

Yamagata considers film and documentary genres as tools for rethinking societies and nurturing collective memory. To tackle the lack of employment opportunities for the young population, the city encourages its youth to engage in the film sector. The YIDFF plays an instrumental role in providing opportunities for youth via organizing film workshops, internships, and international residency programmes by partnering with universities.

In response to COVID-19, Yamagata initiated the ‘Yamagata Film School Online Course’ in collaboration with a diverse set of partners including the Yamagata's Creative Cities Network team, the YIDFF staff, the Yamagata University and film academies, digital consulting agency, cinema groups, film producers and directors, and non-profit organizations. The initiative focuses primarily on students studying at home due to the closure of schools in Japan. However, thanks to its educational and didactic format, the course can cater to all kinds of audience, regardless of their age and background.

The week-long online program is composed of seven specific courses covering various aspects related to the film sector in Yamagata. These include the history of film, basic of film making, economic and social values related to cinema, and presentation of international cooperation platforms, including the UNESCO Creative Cities Network. The courses also feature interviews of cinema professionals and experts based in the city.

After the completion of each online thematic lesson, students can voluntarily submit short reports, questions or impressions reflecting upon the topic. Students who submit five or more reports receive a certificate of participation and a token of recognition. Currently, the courses are offered mainly in Japanese, however courses in English are foreseen for the near future.