In this genuinely powerful and illuminating documentary, we step inside an outpatient mental health clinic run by a sympathetic elderly doctor to pull back “the invisible curtain” obscuring the world of Japan’s mentally ill.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2020
Committed to humane, eye-level methods of documentary filmmaking, Soda Kazuhiro is a humble radical in this often sensationalist genre. We’re proud to present both his latest work, Zero, and the award-winning film that first introduced the world to Dr Yamamoto. Soda’s empathetic camera reveals the difficulties and hopes of the modest clinic Yamamoto founded alongside the lives of his patients, whose raw experiences are alleviated by simple acts of listening and kindness.
“In Japan, people with mental illnesses have long been stigmatized, marginalized and isolated from broader society. In 2009… Soda Kazuhiro released Mental, a film about Yamamoto Masatomo, an elderly psychiatrist in Okayama Prefecture who respected his patients as individuals and built close relationships with them. In the process, he challenged standard psychiatric methods that leaned heavily on medication and institutionalization. As Soda’s fly-on-the-wall camera makes clear, this was no way to get rich. Yamamoto’s hours were long and his clinic was small and rundown. Meanwhile, his wife, Yoshiko, kept domestic and professional wheels turning smoothly. Theirs was a family enterprise, with the ‘family’ including Yamamoto’s patients.” — Mark Schilling, Japan Times
About the Filmmaker
Soda Kazuhiro is a Japanese independent filmmaker based in New York. He is regarded for his strict “ten commandments” of filmmaking, which characterise his observational philosophy towards documentary. Selected filmography: Zero (2020), Inland Sea (2018), The Big House (2018), Peace (2010), Campaign (2007).