Yamagata: Creative City of Film


Bringing the world together through film

Yamagata is known as a city of and for film lovers. Independent film screenings first took place in the city just after the end of World War II. Cinema construction, independent filmmaking, an engagement with other aspects associated with the culture of film – even filmmaking workshops as part of the school curriculum – have long been a part of city life here.

In 1989, the local government and city residents worked together to hold Asia’s first documentary film festival in Yamagata. Since that inaugural festival the city has continued to serve as a venue in which people from a variety of backgrounds can come together in celebration of international films portraying a worldwide cultural diversity.

The energy and creativity that stem from an eagerness to engage in cultural activity is considered an important cultural asset which is visible both in local community building projects and in the educational system, with fine arts universities in the city producing a steady stream of young creative talents. The range of those cultural activities has also been expanding both from within Japan and from overseas. Attempts to promote the region as a location for commercial filmmaking and other production services not only stimulate the local economy but also help to revitalise the region by encouraging interpersonal exchange and providing participation opportunities for

city residents.

Yamagata places an emphasis on effective communication and a sense of sharing, openness and exchange to bring the world together through film. The distinctive appeal of the city is already evident and bodes well for its future development and progress.




Yamagata is known for its cherries  l サクランボ(山形の特産品)

The renowned documentary film festival takes place here.  l  国際的な映画祭を開催

Welcome to the City of Film

First held in 1989, the Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival has become a cultural event that has acquired a highly respected worldwide reputation. Yamagata has also produced numerous filmmakers, being home to both Yamagata University, which offers a variety of opportunities to study film, and the Tohoku University of Art and Design, which includes a Department of Film and Media. The Yamagata Film Commission actively promotes the region as a location for filmmaking and provides support for film production in the area, whilst the Yamagata International Movie Festival aims to discover and foster new ta lent to help lead the way for the future of the film industry. Collaborative efforts like these between the industry, academia, and city residents are working to carefully develop the culture of film in the city and already acknowledge it to be a valuable regional asset.



Yamagata Documentary Film Library  l  山形ドキュメンタリーフィルムライブラリー

Filmmaking workshops for children  l こども映画ワークショップの取組み

Nature in its winter glory  l  四季折々の表情を映す自然(冬)

Independent film screenings are held regularly by residents and civic groups.  l  市民や市民団体による積極的な自主上映活動


Tohoku University of Art and Design  l  東北芸術工科大学

Yamagata Documentary Film Library  l  山形ドキュメンタリー・フィルムライブラリー

Nature in its spring glory  l  四季折々の表情を映す自然(春)

The city provides attractive locations for filming.  l  映画の撮影風景

Preserving the Memory of March 11, 2011

Yamagata has been using the power of film to bring healing and comfort to hearts and minds by organizing free film screenings i n areas affected by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and by offering filmmaking workshops for children and other residents of Fukushima. The disaster-hit area is still in the process of recovering from the destruction and devastation it suffered half a decade ago. In addition, the 311 Documentary Film Project is working to compile an archive of documentary films and related information about the Great East Japan Earthquake in order to spread awareness of this material throughout the world. By using film as a medium of expression and sharing these memories and the lessons learned from the earthquake and the accompanying tsunami, the project hopes not only to raise awareness about natural disasters but also to promote academic research related to such disasters and the process of recovery.




Also, the seat of the Yamagata prefectural government, the city of Yamagata has a population of around 250,000. The mountainous nature-rich area draws hordes of skiers, hikers and other visitors to the Zao hot springs ski resort and its many other tourist spots, including the mountain temple of which the great haiku poet Basho was so fond. Yamagata is known for its production of a wide variety of fruits, including cherries, La France pears, and grapes.

Locally produced soba buckwheat, Yamagata beef, and locally brewed sakes also contribute to the city’s varied food culture. There are 21 cinemas in the city, which is well-known for having one of the largest populations of film lovers in Japan. In 2017, Yamagata became the first UNESCO Creative City of Film in Japan.



山形県の県庁所在地である人口25 万人の都市。山々に覆われた自然豊かな地で、スキー客で賑わう温泉地・蔵王や俳聖芭蕉が愛した山寺などの観光地を有す。さくらんぼ、ラ・フランス、ぶどうをはじめとする豊富な果物の産地であり、そば、山形牛、地酒など多彩な食文化にも恵まれている。市内には21ものスクリーンがあり、国内でも映画ファンが多いまちとして知られる。