MENTAL is a feature-length documentary that observes the complex world of an outpatient mental health clinic in Japan, interwoven with patients, doctors, staff, volunteers, and home-helpers, in cinema-verite style. The film breaks a major taboo against discussing mental illness prevalent in Japanese society, and captures the candid lives of people coping with suicidal tendencies, poverty, a sense of shame, apprehension, and fear of society.
- International Film Festival: Best Documentary Award (PIFF Mecenat Award)
- Dubai International Film Festival: Best Documentary Award (Muhr AsiaAfrica Documentary Award)
“ Kazuhiro Soda is making his own case as the Frederick Wiseman of Japan. As the American auteur made a career inventing the rules of cinema verite and exposing the workings of U.S. institutions, Soda is, as he says it, “pulling back the curtain” on the monoliths of Japan. Last year’s Campaign was a surprisingly refreshing and engaging look at the LDP. Mental sees him delving into the world of mental health. He follows a handful of patients at the Chorale Okayama clinic. Unlike Wiseman, Soda lets his subjects talk directly to the camera. And talk they do. He gives plenty of time for them to speak about their problems, tell the stories of their lives and give human voices and faces to issues that are usually ignored or hidden from public view. All the stories are compelling. Some are devastating. But ultimately the viewer is left with a small window of understanding and identification with these brave individuals who could very well be friends or family going through similar struggles with mental health.
Mental (2008) in AvaxHome