Muhr AsiaAfrica Documentary
Japan, U.S.A. / 2008 / Japanese dialogue with English subtitles / Colour / HDCam / 135 minutes

Winner of Muhr AsiaAfrica / Documentary /First Prize: Kazuhiro Sôda (Director)

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Chorale Okayama is a mental health unit in Japan, run by Dr Masatomo Yamamoto. In Kazuhiro Soda's frank and forthright documentary, we meet this renowned specialist and some of the diverse collection of people who come to his facility, seeking his help. From the suicidal (two participants in the film subsequently killed themselves) to cases involving schizophrenia, bulimia and nervous exhaustion, 'Mental' presents an insight into Yamamoto's progressive and humane therapies. By encouraging patients to participate in everyday life, Chorale Okayama seeks to - physically and theoretically - free patients from locked-down cells. The film also highlights the unfortunate stigmas attached to mental illness in Japan and the numerous difficulties faced by healthcare professionals in the field. An honest and very human narrative, 'Mental' presents a gently inspiring story of positivity and determination, in dealing with a hitherto taboo social issue.


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