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DIRECTOR'S STATEMENT
by Kazuhiro Soda

In my previous documentary film CAMPAIGN, there is a scene where 
volunteers gossip about a "psychotic woman" standing right outside the 
election campaign headquarters in Kawasaki, Japan.

"See that woman standing across the street? She's psychotic. When she 
was still sane, she had long hair and big tits. She called herself 
the Marilyn Monroe of Kawasaki," they say.

As seen in this conversation, "psychotic people" are often the subject of 
curiosity, excitement, and ridicule, among healthy people. They are 
not considered to be fellow human beings but some kind of creatures 
from another world who occasionally appear in front of us. There 
seems to be a transparent curtain that divides healthy and mentally 
ill people. Most healthy people see the world of mental illness as 
irrelevant to their lives.

But I have been feeling that there's something wrong about this 
situation. When I was a college student, I myself felt sick and 
decided to go to a mental clinic, where I was diagnosed with "burnout 
syndrome*." Even after I recovered from the syndrome, there were 
several times when I almost became sick because of too much stress. I 
also have some friends and colleagues who actually became mentally 
ill and even committed suicide. In fact, because modern society is 
filled with pressure, stress, and the sense of solitude, nobody is 
immune to mental illness. Thus, it is quite dangerous that mental 
illness remains a taboo and that most people turn their eyes away 
from the subject.

Therefore, in my documentary MENTAL, my aim is to get rid of this 
invisible curtain, not by sending political messages, but simply by 
observing. The most important attitude for me as a filmmaker was to 
look straight with my own eyes and my camera at the world of patients 
without any preconceived or fixed ideas, without labeling them as 
"the weak," "the dangerous," or even as "the great."  In order to do 
that, just like in my previous film CAMPAIGN, I tried to shoot as 
freely and spontaneously as possible without preparing anything 
beforehand.

In the editing, I did not use any narration, super-imposed 
titles, or music, so that I can show the complex reality as it is, 
avoiding stereotypical simplification. I also tried to stimulate 
the audience's active observation, leaving lots of room for them to 
freely interpret what they see on the screen. In addition, I tried 
to recreate the time and space I experienced so that the audience 
will feel as if they visited the clinic and saw these patients 
themselves.

MENTAL has no "message" nor "statement" nor "conclusions." Rather, I 
want to make a movie that is as far away as possible from propaganda. 
It would be an immense pleasure for me if the viewers could come up 
with their own observations, thoughts, and questions, while they 
watch MENTAL, and afterwards.

* burnout syndrome: physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or 
stress: high levels of professionalism that may result in burnout. 
(Oxford Dictionary)

DIRECTOR'S BIO


       
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