At a masterclass under the title ‘Observational Film’, Soda will be presenting his award-winning observational documentaries characterised by a curious, serene and subtle approach. Over the course of the past fifteen years, Soda and his partner and producer Kiyoko Kashiwagi, who is also joining us in Zagreb, have been independently producing, filming, editing and distributing his films about outsiders which often include materials from his political cover stories: tense relationships between natives and migrants, unpleasant election campaigns, poor treatment of the sick and the vulnerable. However, even when he faces them with hard reality, Soda instinctively takes care of his viewers and creates cinematic spaces where they can take a break, collect their thought and reflect over social issues.
Ahead of the masterclass, on 12 and 13 December, four of Soda’s films are scheduled for screening: “Mental”, “0”, “Oyster Factory” and “Inland Sea”, depicting the same places and protagonists in different periods and from different points of view, for which reason they will be screened as double bills. Soda will be interviewed by Ivan Ramljak and Ivor Glavaš.
Kazuhiro Soda (1970) was born in Ashikaga in the Tochigi Prefecture, but he started making films in Japan only when he moved to the other end of the world. After graduating in religious studies from the University of Tokyo and giving up on an entrepreneurial career, he enrolled in a BA in film directing at the School of Visual Arts in New York, where he resides until this day. He published two books, ‘Mental Illness and Mosaic’ and ‘The Reason Why I Make Documentaries’, and developed his own ten film commandments inspired by Dogma 95, such as: Never conduct research before making a film, Your film crew should have as few members as possible, Use long instead of short takes and cut as little as possible, Cover your own production expenses. Soda’s documentaries share many common traits with his role model Frederick Wiseman, but unlike Wiseman he focuses much more on individuals. They both share an insatiable curiosity regarding the way institutions function – they investigate the corners and margins of the spaces they film and are interested in educators, social workers, administrators, craftsmen and artists. However, Soda has an almost therapeutic effect on his protagonists and makes them open up to the camera in an almost cathartic way. Cats make a curious company in his non-fiction films as his trademark. Also as part of the retrospective, the Multimedia Institute publishes Soda’s methodological notes in more details, appearing for the first time in translation. Soda’s visit is also a tribute to the untimely departed friend and fellow critic Dragan Rubeša, a big expert and fan of his work.