"Filmmaker Kazuhiro Soda visits the stadium that’s home to all of America"

Photo borrowed from The Japan Times, 2/24/18.

The subject matter of this film is not my favorite since I am a graduate of Michigan State University. But I won’t let my bias interfere with the reporting about one of my favorite filmmakers… Go Green! Go White!

From The Japan Times, 6/12/18.

The Japanese media covers American football about as often as it covers American sumo — seldom to never. Few here play the game and not even a recent scandal involving an illegal tackle by a Nihon University player will change that.

So the upcoming release of “The Big House,” Kazuhiro Soda’s incisive, multifaceted documentary on the huge stadium that hosts University of Michigan football games, is something of a surprise. Soda, whose past documentaries have examined the absurdities of the Japanese election system (“Campaign,” 2007) and the struggles of a Japanese fishing community (“Oyster Factory,” 2015), confesses that he “didn’t even know the rules of football” before he started shooting “The Big House” in the fall of 2016.

Soda was in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to teach a class on the practice and theory of “direct cinema” at the university with professors Markus Nornes and Terri Sarris. As developed by such pioneers as D.A. Pennebaker and Albert and David Maysles in the late 1950s and ’60s, and since refined by many filmmakers, Soda included, direct cinema says no to narration, background music, interviews and other practices of the conventional documentary.

“The object is to minimize preconceptions — you don’t think a lot about what story you want to tell,” Soda explains. “Instead, you roll the camera and make discoveries.”

The Michigan stadium, nicknamed “The Big House” and officially accommodating 107,601 spectators — just shy of Ann Arbor’s entire population — struck Soda and his collaborators as a rich …continue reading