by Kazuhiro Soda
I don't think of CAMPAIGN (SENKYO) as a political piece, though
politics is its subject matter. Rather, it is what I call "an
observational film" in which the viewer is expected to perceive and
interpret the complex, difficult-to-articulate reality of an election
campaign run by the Liberal Democratic Party, the party that has held
power in Japan for the last 50 years.
Most documentary filmmakers conduct extensive research on their
subjects and to write detailed scripts and treatments before they
begin shooting. The scripts are often written to persuade members of
the production team—executive producers, staff members, and
investors—that the movie is interesting and worth producing, both
artistically and financially.
In making CAMPAIGN (SENKYO) I broke with this tradition. I made a
conscious decision not to write a word before shooting. I was
determined to record whatever took place in front of me and to avoid
research and pre-shoot meetings with the subjects. This wasn't
because I was lazy. It was because I wanted to be true to my
philosophy of documentary filmmaking, that a filmmaker should
minimize preconceived ideas and should simply learn from the crude
reality captured on camera. This strategy was a luxury made possible
by the fact that this was a self-financed one-man operation; I both
operated the camera and recorded sound simultaneously. As a result,
the shoot was one of the most thrilling ones I've ever had, full of
In the editing room as well I chose the most naturalistic path. I
constructed the cinematic reality using only moving pictures and
sounds recorded during the shoot. I did not use any narration, super-
imposed information, computer graphics, special effects, or music.
This is because I wanted the viewers to observe and experience the
election campaign as directly as I did while I was shooting it.
CAMPAIGN (SENKYO) asks viewers to observe and think about what they
see on screen. In this sense, reality is not painted in black and
white. Instead it is gray and complicated, the way we experience it
every day. I hope that viewers will leave the theatre with unanswered
questions, ones they will continue to think about for days, weeks,
even years to come.