In Genpin, Naomi Kawase casts a gentle and serene look at natural childbirth and delivers a visual meditation on the unshakable bond between mother and child. The result is a lucid and moving documentary that captures the splendour of labour with intelligence, emotion and delicacy.
As if it were a companion piece to the critically acclaimed Mogari No Mori (The Mourning Forest), where Kawase was contemplating the strong connection between humans and the forces of nature, Genpin reflects on motherhood and the miracle of birth. Spending a year in the “House of Birth,” the clinic where Doctor Tadashi Yoshimura attended over 20,000 natural childbirths in the span of forty years, Kawase follows the life of women of various social extractions in their last months of pregnancy.
Immersed in nature and far from the turmoil of city life, the clinic hosts pregnant women who are protected by the soothing guidance of Doctor Yoshimura. When the time of birth comes, delivery seems to happen without much effort in a lightly painful, almost pleasant experience. Advocating the beauty of nature and of lives delivered outside of a hospital’s structure, Kawase shows how the process of repossessing childbirth, without being dependent on medical intervention, can be highly satisfying for a woman.
Quietly awesome, Genpin is endowed with subtle charm and almost magical appeal. A documentary in its form and a peaceful meditation at its heart, the film has a deep spiritual soul that contrasts with the earthy physicality of bodies portrayed while giving birth. Creating a new form of visual document, Kawase records these events and challenges the viewer with her signature empathic style, conveying what the real experience of pregnancy is and reaching out to the audience with a moving and subtly powerful sensibility.
Genpin is inspired by the words of Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu: “The valley spirit never dies. It is named the mysterious woman.” Fittingly, the film is enigmatic yet simply natural.
Wybrane nagrody i festiwale/Selected festivals and awards: 2010 – MFF Toronto/ Toronto IFF, 2010 – MFF San Sebastian/ San Sebastian IFF
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