Can a candidate with no political experience and no charisma win an election if he is backed by the political giant Prime Minister Koizumi and his Liberal Democratic Party? This cinema-verite documentary closely follows a heated election campaign in Kawasaki, Japan, revealing the true nature of "democracy." Written by
An Insightful look at Japanese politics and culture
Campaign screened at Austin's SXSW Film Festival. It is a thoughtful cinema verite view of a campaign for a city council seat in a suburb of Tokyo. The film focuses on the race run by an uncharismatic novice politician for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party - a Conservative political party. This unusual film is at its best when it provides a lens to explain Japanese culture and politics - particularly the hierarchical nature of Japanese society. It clearly show that Japanese politics are as banal as an American politics. There is never any serious discussion of policy issues. Instead the candidate focuses on increasing his name recognition. The candidate speaks in slogans about being for "Reform." The biggest problem with Campaign is that its 2-hour running time is simply too long for the story it is telling. The film would be snappier and more interesting at 75 to 90 minutes. As it is, the scenes are simply too long and repetitive and much extraneous material is included. The cinema verite style also provides very little context for those who are unfamiliar with Japanese politics. Still, the film opens a window into the world of Japanese democracy that will be very educational for outsiders and may allow people to think about the flaws that are typical in all democratic systems as well as those specific to Japan.
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