Director Kazuhiro Soda in person!
Presented in Partnership with Film @ International House and the Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia
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. Adhering to the campaign tactic of "bowing to everybody, even to telephone poles," Yama-san visits local festivals, kindergarten sports events, senior gatherings, commuter train stations, and even bus stops to offer his hand to every one he sees. Can a candidate with no political experience and no charisma win an election if he is backed by the Prime Minister? This verité documentary closely follows a heated election campaign in Kawasaki, Japan, revealing the true nature of "democracy." (Japan/US, 2006, 120 min, Japanese with English subtitles)
Kazuhiro Soda's Mental screens the following eveningTuesday, January 11, 7:30PM at International House. MORE INFO
At the center of Al Más Allá is an allegory of three Mexican fishermen. After absconding with illegal drugs that wash ashore on the Mayan coast, they sell them to the corrupt local police for a handsome sum. An experimental documentary that uses fictional elements, Al Más Allá places the personal moral degeneration of the fishermen in the political context of a nation struggling on the edge of the global economy. Pulled in the direction of other Caribbean resort communities, Mexico’s underdeveloped Mayan coast is quickly becoming both a lavish playground of the international leisure class and a major conduit for illegal drugs in transit from South America to U.S. markets.
To investigate this tumultuous and transformative moment in Mexico, director Lourdes Portillo humorously employs a fictional crew lead by a vain and blindly arrogant documentary filmmaker played by famed Mexican actress Ofelia Medina. Real interviews with tourist guides, merchants, and American expats about the corruption and violence caused by drug trafficking are interspersed with stylized narrative scenes that reveal the filmmaker’s preoccupations and personal ambitions. Lyrical, visually intriguing, and entertaining, Al Más Allá is at once reportage into the expansive world of drug trafficking across Mexico and an ironic indictment of the cult of the documentary filmmaker whose romantic visions of herself and her mission often obscures the very truth she seeks. (US, 2008, 43 minutes, Spanish and English with Subtitles)
Tuesday, August 10 @ 7PM 2010
International House, 3701 Chestnut Street
Director Mark Landsman in person
It was afros and pleated shirts; James Brown and Bootsy Collins. It was the ’70s, and an inner-city Houston high school was about to make history. Charismatic band leader, Conrad “Prof” Johnson would turn the school’s mediocre jazz band into a legendary funk powerhouse. Now, 35 years later, his students prepare to pay tribute to the man who changed their lives, the 92-year-old Prof. Some haven’t played their horns in decades, still they dust off their instruments determined to retake the stage to show Prof and the world that they’ve still got it. MORE INFO