Friday, September 4, 2015

Screenings of Japanese documentaries Mental (精神), Peace, and Campaign (選挙)—with filmmaker Q-and-A sessions—at University of Pittsburgh, September 10 and 11.

Three Japanese documentaries by Kazuhiro Soda——Mental (精神), Peace, and Campaign (選挙)——will screen at the University of Pittsburgh on September 10 and September 11. Soda will be present for Q-and-A sessions on both days in an "ASIA on SCREEN" event presented by the University of Pittsburgh Asian Studies Center and Film Studies Program.

A brief synopsis of 2008's Mental, via the documentary's official site:
[Mental] is a documentary that observes the complex world of an outpatient mental health clinic Chorale Okayama in Japan, interwoven with patients, doctors, staff, volunteers, and home-helpers.

People with various mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, panic disorder, and personality disorder visit Chorale Okayama to see Dr. Masatomo Yamamoto. They are men and women of all ages, with diverse backgrounds and various attitudes to their own illnesses.

There is an elite businessman who worked too hard and was diagnosed with "burn-out syndrome." There is a woman who has suffered from an eating disorder since somebody said to her
that her legs were too fat. There is a mother who ended up killing her own newborn baby. Because of their illnesses, some attempt suicide repeatedly, and others actually kill themselves (As of today, two of the patients in the film have committed suicide). Some have been dealing with their illnesses for decades, and have developed their own philosophy, religious faith, or artistic expressions. Some hide their illnesses even from their family members and friends, while others give lectures to reduce prejudice and misunderstanding about mental illness.
Mental begins at 7:00 pm on Thursday, September 10, at the Frick Fine Arts Auditorium (campus map). A Q-and-A with Soda will follow.

2010's Peace, according to the documentary's official site,
is a visual-essay-like observational documentary, which contemplates these questions by observing the daily lives of people and cats in Okayama city, Japan, where life and death, acceptance and rejection are intermingled.

Three people and stray cats are the main characters.

Toshio Kashiwagi runs an affordable taxi service for the disabled and the elderly, having retired as a principal at a special school. Meanwhile, he feeds a group of stray cats everyday. However, there is a growing tension in the cats’ peaceful community because a male “thief cat,” an outsider, is trying to invade it.

Toshio’s wife, Hiroko Kashiwagi, runs a non-profit organization, which sends home helpers to houses of the elderly and the disabled. But, her organization is facing financial difficulties because of budget cuts from the government. At home, she has been grumbling about the way Toshio feeds his cats.

As a professional caregiver herself, Hiroko regularly visits 91-year-old Shiro Hashimoto to help his daily routines. Living in a mice and tick infected small apartment, Hashimoto is spending his final days thinking about his own death. His memories of being drafted to World War II come back to him while dealing with Hiroko.
And the synopsis for 2010's Campaign, via the film's official site:
Can a candidate with no political experience and no charisma win an election if he is backed by the political giant Prime Minister Koizumi and his Liberal Democratic Party? This cinema-verite documentary closely follows a heated election campaign in Kawasaki, Japan, revealing the true nature of "democracy."

In the fall of 2005, 40-year-old, self-employed Kazuhiko "Yama-san" Yamauchi's peaceful, humdrum life was turned upside-down. Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) had suddenly chosen him as its official candidate to run for a vacant seat on the Kawasaki city council. Yama-san had zero experience in politics, no charisma, no supporters, no constituency, and no time to prepare for the impending election.
Peace will begin at 2:00 pm and Campaign at 5:30 on Friday the 11th. Both movies, along with the 4:00 reception and the Q-and-A session, will be held in Lawrence Hall room 121 (campus map). The event is free and open to the public.