Yamagata, Japan, became a UNESCO City of Film in 2017.

What does this mean for Yamagata?

Being a part of the international UNESCO Creative Cities Network means that our city can:

  • build a reputation for Yamagata City of Film, giving pride and confidence to the city and a springboard for opportunities
  • share best practices with creative cities in Japan and abroad to discover new possibilities while offering learning in exchange
  • contribute to the promotion of SDGs, and foster urban sustainable development through the city's grass-roots cultures
In Japan’s Tohoku region, Yamagata is known as the oasis of nature. Yamagata has nurtured diverse artistic culture including film, gastronomy, traditional craft, and music. Loved for its festivals, the city is home to the biennale Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival, which attracts some 22,000 people.


What makes Yamagata a City of Film?

Yamagata Documentary Film Festival 2019

Film Festivals

Yamagata is host to two international film festivals. Founded in 1989, the Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival (YIDFF) is well known for its International Competition progamme, where work submitted from around the world is archived in the Yamagata Documentary Film Library and can be viewed free of charge. The Yamagata International Movie Festival  (YMF) offers a scholarship to encourage new filmmakers to submit their work, giving the recipient the opportunity to make a theatre feature film.

Film Education in Yamagata

Film Education

Film education is embedded in the film culture of Yamagata. Yamagata was the first city in Japan to screen films in schools after World War II. The Tohoku University of Art and Design, headed by famous Japanese film director, Kichitaro Negishi, has established a film course that has produced many talented filmmakers. The Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival features a strong educational programme running youth initiative projects and educational workshops for secondary school pupils and college students.


Yamagata Film Commission

The Yamagata Film Commission has been a focal point for film and visual content makers, offering logistical support for on-location shooting for movies, TV dramas, and commercial films. Neighbouring districts of Kaminoyama City, Tendo City, Sagae City, Higashine City, Murayama City, Nishikawa Town, and Oishida Town are members of Yamagata Film Commission, bringing areas closer together. The collaborative network helps to provide more efficient support to national and international filmmakers.

Traditional Culture

"Yamagata Maiko - Traditional Performing Arts in the Modern Day"(2019)

"Yamagata Renaissance Project " is a Yamagata City of Film project with a particular cultural role, working to produce a series of films that will share enthusiasm and engagement with Yamagata’s traditional culture. The series looks at how these crafts interest young generations today, seeing the past through new eyes and offering young local film talent a chance to experiment with film and explore traditional culture.

Community Engagement

Yamagata City of Film organizes "Creative Café" to open conversation and to encourage engagement from people across the city. People in Yamagata can gather together and exchange opinions. Some Creative Café events invite guest speakers from cultural organisations to speak or host film screenings to introduce works made in Yamagata City.

Film Production

A message from director, OTOMO Keishi (大友啓史)

Mobile Film Festival
OTOMO Keishi (大友啓史) , director
Photo: Dick Thomas Johnson (CC BY 2.0 license)

Film is a window to look at the world. Through films, we are able to venture into the unknown places and cultures of the world, perceive complicated emotions, and share our experiences. I fully support and contribute to the development of film culture and the local revitalization and treasure my friendship with Yamagata City.

YAMAGATA, as we are a member of Tohoku, let’s all work together!"

OTOMO Keishi (大友啓史), Director
Dir. Otomo was born in 1966 in Iwate Prefecture. He joined Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) in 1990 and had an opportunity to learn about script writing and direction in LA for two years. He directed quite well-known TV dramas "The Vulture(ハゲタカ)" (07), "Mr. Jiro Shirasu(白洲次郎)" (09), and "Ryomaden(龍馬伝)" (10). He left NHK in April 2011 and established his own company. His major films include "Rurouni Kenshin(るろうに剣心)" (12), "Platinum Data(プラチナデータ)" (13), "Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno/ The Legend Ends(るろうに剣心 京都大火編/伝説の最期編)" (14), "The Top Secret: Murder in Mind(秘密 THE TOP SECRET)" (16), "MUSEUM(ミュージアム)" (16), "March comes in like a lion(3月のライオン 2部作)" (17), and "Okuotoko(億男)" (18). Attracting people all around the world, his films became a huge hit in Japan and won several film awards in both Japan and overseas. His new films "Eiri(影裏)" and "Rurouni Kenshin - Final Chapter(るろうに剣心 最終章 The Final/The Beginning)" are scheduled to be released in 2020 and 2021.

Latest News

Recent Filming

Dung Duang Haruetai
Drama series, Thailand (2019)
Love Talk
original title: "越年 Lovers"
Feature film, collaborative project of Taiwan, Malaysia, and Japan
Umi made nan mile
original title: "海まで何マイル"
Film, Japan (2019)
original title: "Return / リターン"
Short film, collaborative project of Busan City of Film and Yamagata City of Film (2019)
original title: "賭ケグルイ"
Feature film, Japan (2019)
original title: "Complicity / コンプリシティ"
Feature film, collaborative project of China and Japan (2018)
March comes in like a lion
original title: "3月のライオン"
Feature film, Japan (2017)
The Last Recipe
original title: "ラストレシピ〜麒麟の舌の記憶〜"
Feature film, Japan (2017)

Want to find out more about Yamagata?

Discover more about Yamagata's work with fellow Cities of Film and Creative Cities on the International Collaboration pages.

Visit the Yamagata City of Film website for the latest on activity in Yamagata.